By Edward Tsumele
The creative industry has in recent days lost huge talent in the sectro whose contributions to the development of the creative sector has made a difference and were noted with admiration.
It is bad enough for death to visit upon those that are loved and admired by family, friends and fans even during times when we have a certain level of stability. But it is even worse now that there is limited social interaction among people due to Covid-19, which is still very much part of us.
Often when death stealthily visits during this time, it is to take away people one had last seen a long time ago, when social interaction at events such as music festivals, concerts, exhibitions and at theatre was not restricted, making the news hard to swallow when someone you know very well and had last seen al ong time ago pre-Covid-19, dies.
For example Takalani Milly Mulaudzi, who started her professional arts career in a relatively junior administrative role at the Market Theatre in early 2000, and then steadily took opportunities in TV productions, first mentored by respected TV producer Rudzani Dzuguda, until she could stand on her own legs, I last saw her at an event at the Market Theatre in 2019.. The she was in her element, her usual self, talkative and full of life and oozing self confidence . She died last week and was buried on Saturday, May 2, 2021. . Her death came as a shock to many, I included, especially because Takalani was full of life, as those close to her will tell you. Her company never had boring moments.
Her story is as inspirational as it is empowering. Takalani first worked at the Market Theatre in an administrative role immediately after graduating from the University of Pretoria with a bachelor’s degree majoring in Psychology and Sociology. She was a Personal Assistant to Gita Pather who was the chief operating officer of the Market Theatre briefly in the mid 2000s. It was during that time when I first met her as a theatre critic who beat the theatre route, including at the Market Theatre.
When Takalani left the institution she joined Ocre Media as part of a development programme, before joining Rudzan Dzugudui’s TV production company Duguda Productions where she steadily climbed the ladder to become a producer and head of programming after honing her TV production skills .
She did not stop there as in 2011 Takalani started her own TV production company Tshedza Media, producing her own shows that were screened on SABC channels such as SABC1.
And in recent years, I was impressed to learn that she was living healthily, having stopped alcohol, a demon that is hard to shake off especially in the arts and entertainment industry, and then death suddenly took her away when everything career and business wise seemed to be going in the right direction for her.
No wonder why even when she left Dzuguda Productions, her former boss recommended her as follows:
“In any company there are three qualities that a colleague should have in order for that company to grow and thrive. Work ethics, integrity and loyalty. Takalani scores highly on all of the above. At Dzuguda Productions, she was required to be a team leader and a creative all at the same time. For the 5 years she was with the company she was able to display those qualities beyond expectations. Television is an extremely difficult industry that requires one to have a thick skin and be resilient. That is exactly what she was. As an indication of the qualities she possessed, she helped create two award nominated shows that are recognized by the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA). I recommend Takalani Mulaudzi as a manager, producer as well as a person,” Dzukuda wrote on his Linkedin profile about Takalani.
One of the close friends of the late TV producer who was touched by her death is Market Theatre publicist and former colleague of hers Lusanda Zokufa (in the picture above with the late Takalani).
“This last week was probably one of the hardest weeks of my life. I am unsure which pain is worse the shock of what happened or the ache of never seeing you again.
Waking up last Saturday I never thought it would end with devastating news of your passing. I am grateful for you my friend – am glad I had the opportunity to see you, hear your voice. Tell you I love you -and your usual response of ‘hayi wena stop being emotional ‘ Still don’t have anything profound to say .You will always be my girl. You showed me what true friendship and love was..I will always love you and cherish the time we had together. Rest easy friend rest easy,” Zokufa wrote on her timeline on Facebook.
Married a few years ago, she had a family of her own, and then this. Her sudden death has left many in the industry and close friends devastated by her demise.
Others that have passed on in recent days in the arts industry are actors Aubrey Moalusi , Mahlubi Kraai and legendary playwright Ronnie Govendor.
May their souls rest in peace.