NEWS

HUFFPOST EXCLUSIVE: 'This Is Where My Pain Comes From' -- Tumi Morake Speaks To Us

"The most difficult time was visiting my dad in jail."

28/09/2017 08:44 SAST | Updated 28/09/2017 10:46 SAST
Jacaranda FM

Embattled Jacaranda FM breakfast show co-host Tumi Morake has for the first time spoken out about the abuse she has endured since making comments about the effects apartheid has had on her. She has also revealed what it was like growing up in a political home and seeing her father go to jail as a little girl.

"I grew up with activist parents who were having conversations about the realities of black people and what was going on in the country," the flamboyant Morake told HuffPost SA in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

She recalls how her parents' house in Mahikeng was raided by police regularly and how, one night, her father had to leave the family and go into hiding. She then moved to her grandmother's house in Thaba 'Nchu in the Free State.

Her dad was later arrested and charged with treason.

"One night, after a particularly hectic raid, my mother woke me up and we travelled by train... that was the last time I would see my father [as a free man]. The following year, I saw him behind bars." He was later released.

When her mother went back to Mahikeng, she too was arrested and spent six months in jail.

The upbeat Morake that we hear on radio and see on our TV screens sounds uncharacteristically sad when she speaks about being separated from her father.

"I think the most difficult time was visiting my dad in jail".

She compares what she had to go through to a chilling scene in the movie, "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom", in which former president Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi visits him in prison.

"I got very emotional watching that scene... I remember being that daughter going to see her father," she said. "It brought back the pain because I remember the first time I went to see him. I was inconsolable when we had to go home," she said.

Morake says that living with her grandmother meant certain things could never be spoken about. "I was not allowed to talk about apartheid. I used to get into a lot of trouble... because we would mention apartheid and she would say, 'hey, hey, hey -- you don't talk about those things here'," she said.

The comedian has been at the centre of controversy since her infamous bicycle analogy which, according to her, was meant to explain black pain and South Africa's transition from apartheid.

She said that "apartheid was about the oppression of black people" on the Jacaranda FM breakfast show that she co-hosts alongside Martin Bester.

"It's like a child whose bicycle was taken forcefully away from him and then you say to the bully, 'no, no, no, share the bike together, don't be like that," she said at the time.

She told HuffPost SA the analogy was meant to explain the position of black people -- not to insult anyone.

"I was explaining hate... I was trying to explain why black people are angry."

Even before this incident, Morake had raised alarm bells with her employer over hateful comments she was getting from some of the station's listeners on social media.

She said the station had fully supported her from the outset. "They have really stood by me, they have been relentless in their support of me."

The only regret she has from the experience is centred on her co-host, Martin Bester. Two gigs he was meant to perform at were cancelled after she had made the comments.

"To be honest, that was my only regret. I wish I had made the statement in his absence... it felt unfair that I should be punished through him."

She said a business owned by another colleague, Rian Van Heerden, was also hard-hit because he publicly defended her.

Morake said she was able to get through these past few weeks because she had to focus on her her son, who had been hospitalised for a week.

"That actually helped me weather the storm at Jacaranda. I was consumed with my child getting better."

But she admits the abuse she received took its toll on her. "It has been a very emotional, taxing two weeks," she said.

Next to come: Tumi explains why she's "obsessed with Afrikaans culture".