By Sindiso Dube
Bulawayo comedian Mandle’nkosi Simbarashe Mathe, popularly known as Mandla the Comedian, is a happy man.
The 22-year-old shrugged off stiff competition from youthful Tinaye Chiketa and favourite Samantha “Gonyeti” Kureya of Bus Stop TV to win the the National Arts Merit Award Outstanding Comedian gong.
Mandla, who is under Umahlekisa Comedy Club in Bulawayo, became the third comedian from the City of Kings to bag a Nama after Carl Joshua Ncube and Clive Chigubu.
“On the bus from Bulawayo to Harare for my first ever Nama, I was excited to be part of this. I’m a person who doesn’t want to lose,” he told The Standard Style.
“Yes, this was my first time to be nominated for a national award. Naturally, I am a person who doesn’t want to lose.
“My colleagues at Umahlekisa — Ntando, C’khanyiso and Marshall Erlando — believed in me. They kept saying the award was coming home since the day I was nominated.”
Mandla recalled his first ever professional show at Shoko Festival in 2016.
“I remember my first show at Shoko Festival which I believe was my launch pad to the mainstream industry,” he said.
“I never looked back from that day, oozing with confidence I get laughs, reviews, tears of joy and bookings from around Zimbabwe.
“This award means a lot to me and my career. This is my passport to the world. It’s a green light to international shows, to being Zimbabwe’s ambassador, to share my art, life and my country’s culture with other countries.”
Born and bred in Bulawayo, the comedian said people don’t take him seriously whenever he mentions his names.
“I was born in a family of four, to Shona and Ndebele parents, hence they shared my first names which basically mean the same thing. No one believes me whenever I mention my name, everyone thinks it’s a joke,”
Besides comedy, Mandla is an anchor at Skyz Metro FM and undergoing tour guide training.