One half of the hilarious pair of TV series Sinjalo, Folomani, real name Fortune Ruzungunde, says regardless of performing around the world and featuring in many ZTV series, the yesteryear series is his best and people still identify him with the character he portrayed 16 years ago.
By Sindiso Dube
Sinjalo was a television series that took the country by storm, touching on tribal issues in a side-splitting manner. The duo of Folomani and Sakhamuzi went through the tribal tensions lingering between the country’s two main ethnic groups — the Ndebele and Shona — showing that the two can actually have cordial relations.
Sakhamuzi’s role was portrayed by the late Mackey Tickeys.
Speaking to The Standard Style at his residence at Madlela Flats in Makokoba in Bulawayo, the actor and arts administrator said after 16 years people in the streets still call him Folomani or Foromani.
“People still call me by my Sinjalo name. In Sinjalo I acted the Shona character who was always at loggerheads with his Ndebele neighbour and some people are shocked when I speak in IsiNdebele. This shows how much impact and real Sinjalo was — people still have a bond with the drama,” he said.
“I might have travelled the world and acted in many plays and series in a career that dates back to 1987 when I started, but people have forgotten about those other characters and remember Foromani of Sinjalo. So to me Sinjalo is my best role.
“We portrayed how ordinary people live in society; we touched on ethnic differences that are within communities. People will have differences that will remind them whom they are [tribe], but with Sakhamuzi there was that one uniting factor that did away with ethnic differences.”
Ruzungunde, a product of Amakhosi Theatre Centre, has featured in series such as Mr Perfect, Family, Sibahlenje, Suku, Stitsha. Kalabani, Dry White Season, Don’t-Ungaqali and Velengelethu.
He has also done stage acts for Dabula, Mdawini, What They Said, The Waiting, Children on Fire, Citizen Mind, Jazzman and recently Untikolotshi.
“Untikolotshi is my last work that got me Nama and Bulawayo Arts Awards nominations last year. I am looking forward to doing more productions and also to do more administrative work in the arts,” he said.
Folomani grew up in Mkokoba at Madlela Flats while Sakhamuzi lived at the neighbouring Hlalani flats. Makokoba is the heartbeat of Bulawayo’s arts industry.
The actor said he misses Sakhamuzi whom he described not just as a fellow actor, but an elder brother.
“He was a veteran in what he did. He was a brother to me and a helper, it is a sad loss to the arts and also the community as a whole. Mackey was a pillar in Makokoba, the gap he left is hard and impossible to fill,” he said.
Ruzungunde said he joined the arts at Amakhosi, which is a stone’s throw away from his residence, by accident in 1987.
“I used to go to the centre [Amakhosi] for boxing and karate practice, not for arts. I then started watching more of the arts activities and eventually I developed more interests and before I knew I had joined traditional drama and dance. From there, I never stopped,” he said.