SA mourns 'Skeem Saam' actor
Messages of condolence have flooded in for fallen Skeem Saam lead actor Charles Maja, popularly known for his role as “Big Boy” Mabitsela in the popular soap opera.
News of the 54-year old thespian’s passing broke on Thursday afternoon, reportedly after he suffered a stroke in Limpopo. Twitter immediately went into a frenzy as fans reminisced about his years spent on the SABC 1 soap opera where he played alongside young actor, Thabo Mkhabela, whom he portrayed as his onscreen father. The two actors built an incredible rapport as father and son while portraying real-life scenarios that included overcoming extreme poverty, with Maja infusing just the right amount of humour to make each scene believable. Mkhabela said he was experiencing a great sense of pain and loss.
“Not only was he a colleague but he was my mentor. Believe it or not, I didn’t know how to speak fluent SePedi when I started on the show and Mr Maja taught me the language religiously.
“He would sit me down before every shoot to go over our lines, show me tricks of how to deliver the lines seamlessly so everything came out as authentic as possible,” said Mkhabela, who now prides himself on being an eloquent SePedi speaker.
“Hearing of his passing is surreal. Even conducting this interview and speaking about him like this doesn’t make sense. In the years of knowing him, he was always so lively and full of energy. Not once did I ever hear him say he wasn’t feeling well.”
Mkhabela described Maja as a quiet guy, “not so quiet as if he was bottling things up or shy. He was quiet because he had tact and knew when to speak and when not to, something he drilled into me.”
Mkhabela said Maja also taught him how to bring himself into the role by infusing his own jokes, something that viewers thoroughly enjoyed. He further described him as a respectable person who showed respect to others.
Maja had been with Skeem Saam since season 1 in 2016 and also lent his voice to various radio drama shows, with his most recent work on Thobela FM’s Mahlakung.
Mkhabela vowed to pass on the lessons he learned from Maja on and off the set.
“And I would like people to remember him just how we all knew him, as Big Boy Mabitsela, a creative and loving man, and a genius. “And as one of the best actors ever to grace the screens of Skeem Saam. He should be remembered for his great work that we have been left with,” he said.
The Sunday Independent