2021 QUEER WARRIOR – THAMI KOTLOLO

LEGEND TRAVELS WITH TIME. 

by Katlego Chibamba

 

When he steps into the room, you are bound to turn your head – that is Thami Kotlolo for you. Multi-talented, Passionate, Bold, Sassy, Loud, Confident and Innovation are some of the words that come to mind when you first meet the indomitable, incorruptible legend of Thami Kotlolo, otherwise known as ThamI Dish.

“I knew from my second day on Earth that I am Gay” this was the response I got when I asked when he first learned that he was Gay. I don’t really know the value behind this question, but I still happen to ask it anyway, although I perhaps thought some people would be interested in knowing this aspect of Thami’s story. 

Growing up, Thami was an inquisitive child, who would used whatever opportunity he got to ask questions about almost everything. He’s family afforded him the space to express himself to his best of abilities. As a result of this, Thami today affords the same courteously to others, through his life and work balance.

To bolster his career, Thami acquired a qualification in musical theatre at the Tshwane University of Technology. Thami became exposed to the world of work at a very young age, having appeared on several major South African television productions such as Mr. Bones, Yo-Tv, Backstage and many others. He affirms that growing up in Mamelodi with his childhood friend Mandisa Nakana, who Is a well known child star having presented Yo-Tv back in the 90’s to the early 20’s, He says “Being exposed to Mandisa, I would often go with her to her workplace, and that’s when I was also given an opportunity as a presenter on Yo-Tv which I took up briefly.” He saw himself rise through the ranks and ended up being employed by the SABC as a production manager, a role that he passionately took up and contributed to tremendously. This role would see him arrive at work as early as 3am and by virtue of his bubbly and open personality, he built meaningful relationships with his colleagues as well as production guests some of whom held top positions in various fields. These meaningful relationships he had build over the years would later see him explore the world of entrepreneurship and communications as he set himself out to establish an events and communications company ‘Quad Republic’

Behind the magnamity of Thami Dish is a charismatic openly identifying gay man who uses his social power to uphold, advocate and visibilise the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people. In 2009, Thami and Baby Joe (Joe Correia) founded the Feather Awards, which is Africa’s biggest LGBT award ceremony, staged in South Africa, celebrating all who support, inspire and empower the LGBTI Community. For those who don’t know who Joe Correia is, when it comes to hosting award shows, Baby Joe has the Midas touch. And the Duku Duku Awards as well as the Metro FM Music Awards bear testimony to his proficiency and influence.

Thami attributes a lot of his success to his protégé, both alive and deceased. His grandmother for one, played a crucial role in his life, his upbringing and in shaping the person he is. When asked about what death means to him, this is what he had to say ;”I am not afraid of death, and if I had a chance to ask God one thing, it would be ‘what is the date of my departure from earth’ because I would want to know, just how much more time I have remaining on earth.” Thami believes that his call on earth is to make sure that he changes the lives of others in the same way that he changes his life. Prayer and faith play a major role in his life. “God for me is endless love, the sky, the moon, the rain, the ever- changing seasons, if you want to see God, look at yourself and surroundings”. What he values the most is his spirit and soul, ‘learning to connect with others on a spiritual level, because that aspect stays, even when the body is buried.” 

 

In this month’s edition, I found it particularly humbling to have been requested to write about Thami Kotlolo because for me, he represents the truest meaning of authenticity. When engaging with him, he is real and always gives his all in everything he does. That for me, is the best way in which we could conduct our lives. 

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