The man behind the rise of Xitsonga language on SA Television Screens

Fumani N Shilubana is a South African actor best known for his role as Detective Dabula on the SABC3 soapie “Isidingo”.

He was previously known for his roles as Detective Nataniel in the SABC2 drama series “Hillside” (2006-2008) and for his role as Dr. Mokhethi on the SABC1 soapie “Generations”, from 2008-2009.




For a very long time, Fumani N Shilubana has been denied an opportunity to use his own language, Xitsonga, on national TV because the language “doesn’t have viewers”. That tag can be disputed today, judging from the response on the latest and SABC 2 Xitsonga Drama Series “Giyani: Land of Blood” views on the channel.

Fumani N Shilubana has also lost so many roles on TV and made so many enemies from persisting to use his home language. Instead of giving up on his dream to see the Vatsonga Nation being represented on National TV, he persisted and made sure that the first Xitsonga TV Drama Series becomes a success.




Today, we have “Giyani: Land of Blood” with over 7 million viewers because of this man who was born at Shiluvana Village in Tzaneen, Limpopo. In 2000, he nearly became a model, but he left it all together when he went to the South African State Theatre to enquire about drama, where he met Irene Mathe. He obtained a Certificate in Speech and Drama with Tshwana Modern Arts Company (TMAC) in 2001.

In 2002 he joined The South African State Theatre’s Development Program (52 Seasons) where he meet his mentor and friend playwright/director Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom, who taught Fumani all he knows. He did his first professional play in 2003 (Julius Caesar and Maru as a school set work).




He went on to do a number of productions with the State Theatre including Hamlet, Cards, Relativity “township stories”, Telling Stories, Interracial and the first installment of the trilogy Welcome to Rocksburg, in 2009.

Some of the plays toured Europe countries like Austria, Belgium, Germany, UK, Poland, Holland and South Africa. Fumani was nominated for Best Supporting Role for the play Relativity “township stories” at the Naledi Awards in 2006.




In the same year he starred in a number of TV productions including “Hillside” (SABC2) and Soul City (SABC1). He also appeared in “Death of a Queen” (a mini-series that was part of SABC1’s Shakespeare in Mzansi strand), “Generations” (SABC1) and “Muvhango” (SABC2).

He also appeared in television commercials for Sun International, Hollard Insurance, Doves Funerals and Hyundai. In 2009 he was a recipient of the Mama Beka Community Award given to individuals who have made their Province better with their achievement.




He is the founder of Xitengile Media House, a production company.

In 2010, Fumani appeared in the e.tv drama series eKasi: Our Stories, in the episode entitled “Foreign Husband”. In 2011 he appeared in the episode “Over My Dead Body”.

In 2012 he featured in his first film role in the movie Zama Zama.

He also had a starring role as Mountain, the incompetent caretaker at the retirement home who is an accident waiting to happen, in the SABC3 sitcom Let Heaven Wait, in 2013.

In the same year he had a starring role in the Mzansi Magic miniseries “Naledi” and in 2014 had a starring role as Rudzani Makwarela, a successful building contractor whose crooked dealings leave his family fighting for survival as he lies in a coma, in the SABC2 thriller series “Thola”.




Shilubana also appeared in four Mzansi Magic Lokshin Bioskop films as the leading man: “Regrets” (2014), “Cursed” (2015), “Love Specialist” (2015) and “Battle Of The House” (2015). He also had a supporting role in the miniseries “Naledi”, in 2014.

In 2015 Shilubana produced and directed his first film, “Khomelela”, in which 80% of the language spoken is Tsonga. The project was designed to leave a legacy in the Tsonga movie space.

In the same year he guest starred on the third and final season of the Mzansi Magic soapie “Zabalaza”, and on the channel’s comedy series “The Mayor”, created by Kagiso Lediga.




NB: Please note that this article was compiled from different sources including Godlive Masinge, Lidon Da Jackson James and TVSA.

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