From voice clips to the big stage
What started off as a silly joke between a group of friends ended up as a dream-come-true for Madibe Mahlatji.
Mahlatji, popularly known as Leisa la Maisa in social media circles, shot to stardom eight months ago when his friends recorded him mimicking Zulu and Pedi-speaking taxi drivers who were fighting at a taxi rank in Germiston.
The 35-year-old self-made comedian from Ga-Mphahlele, Limpopo, caught the attention of many with his broken Zulu.
The second voice recording to go viral on social media was teasing Idibala hitmaker King Monada, warning him not to set foot in Ga-Sekhukhune, Limpopo, because people there wear expensive clothes and cannot afford to dance to his song by rolling on the ground.
After the voice recordings were widely circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms, Moisa, as he refers to himself, began getting requests to MC at weddings and other events around the province.
He said he was hesitant at first because he was a politician and businessman.
"I was worried my clients and my fellow comrades would judge me for being a 'comedian' and not take me seriously. But that was not the case. Instead, it opened more doors for me.
Today I make a living out of it.
"My brand has grown. I charge between R10,000 and R20,000 for one event, depending on how big it is and how far the venue is," he said.
Moisa said his work was now appreciated beyond his home province of Limpopo.
"I was invited in Mpumalanga and North West to MC at weddings and parties. I believe people love what I do because it's more than just making people laugh, it's about the message I send out and how I proudly speak Sepedi mixed with a bit of slang. I use Sepedi because I want to teach people the importance of preserving their mother tongue," Moisa said.
He said he felt honoured when DJ Fresh played one of his clips on the Fresh Breakfast Show on Metro FM.
"Thobela FM also support me by playing my clips on some of their midday shows," he said.
Moisa said he has big plans in the pipeline, including working with some government departments in Limpopo to make the project more than just comedy.
His goal is to use his talent to promote Sepedi and the arts in the province.
He said his work was mostly inspired by the way he grew up and the challenges he faced as a young man growing up in the village.
Despite the fact that those were painful times, he was happy he could look back and joke about the poverty.
Moisa said after dropping out of the then Rand Afrikaans University, now University of Johannesburg, and Unisa where he was studying law, he started selling clothes.
"I would buy big clothing brands in bulk while they were on sale in stores and resell them in my community. That way I was able to help my father who was just a factory worker. I am glad I now have a proper career that is promising to be bigger than I have ever dreamt of," he said.