Clement Maosa on 10 years of Skeem Saam and his love for giving back

Actor Clement Maosa puts education at the forefront of everything.
Actor Clement Maosa puts education at the forefront of everything.

He is all about giving back to the community that helped to raise him when he lost his parents. He knows what it’s like to need and not have, to be ridiculed for being poor.

Skeem Saam actor Clement Maosa (34) recently partnered up with Glencore Ferroalloys and Imbumba Foundation intending to keep young girls at school through sanitary pad donations.

The partnership was sparked by the alarming rate of young girls who miss school due to a lack of access to sanitary pads. Since the partnership, over 500 000 sanitary pads were handed over to more than 10 000 girls at 57 local schools in the Limpopo and North West provinces.

They kick-started the second year of their partnership by distributing over 40 000 sanitary pads to more than 800 girls at the Bakwena and Charora Secondary Schools in the North West. In addition to the donation, a nurse was available to help educate the girls on menstrual hygiene and puberty as required.

This is the kind of work that keeps Clement motivated every day.

“Coming from a rural area and school in Limpopo, I know what it’s like to be poor. I grew up poor in the village and I attended a public school. I had challenges. I would envy other kids for having lunch boxes and school shoes. I was always discouraged because I was looked down upon,” he tells Drum.

But he knew he would get out of that situation If he valued education.

“I knew if I put education at the centre of my life, it would help to get me out of my situation. I passed grade 12 and got my matric certificate and went to university and got Bachelor of Laws.”

He knew working hard and focusing on his education would be his saving grace.

“I am out of that community and when I started acting, I used the fame and decided to start going to rural communities to motivate kids who grew up like me. I saw some celebrities motivated in urban areas kids but no one in the rural areas,“ he says.

“Before the fame, I was also poor and still at varsity. I needed help myself."

He started giving back in 2012 and officially launched the Bakgethwa Foundation three years ago.

“My foundation is mainly focused on education,” he says.

“No matter what career path you take, football, entertainment, law, acting, education needs to be the foundation. There are so many stars who cry about contracts and had they had education as their foundation, things would be different because it opens a lot of doors.”

Giving back for Clement is not about personal fulfillment but seeing everyone living well with their basic needs fulfilled.

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At 17 years old, Clement lost both his parents Tlou and Mosima Maosa, who were domestic workers. 

In a recent post on social media, he shared how his parents’ death caused family friction. His healing took time and having his own family has helped him to grow.

“Healing is a process and no one should predict when and how to deal with it. The fact that two domestic workers who were already written off were now emerging in business and had a white wedding in the village didn’t sit well with many for some weird reason. At some point, I believed that had they not gotten married and had a huge wedding celebration they would still be alive. Anyway, it’s all in the past now I’m just rewriting history that’s all.”

Clement tells Drum that he was raised by his community, and he will forever be grateful.

“I don’t think giving back is about my personal fulfilment, giving is just a noble thing to do. I was raised by a community. When I lost both mom and dad, my teachers became my parents. I grew up in a community with a spirit of Ubuntu. I can never claim to be successful if my neighbours are suffering and are poor. So, I want the foundation to continue even when I die.”

He once shared how he attempted suicide twice after his parents’ death, but he is now in a good place.

"I attempted suicide twice after losing my parents. I felt like I had nothing to live for. Little did I know that my purpose is bigger. Varsity life also wasn’t easy. I remember I wouldn’t have money for food. I would eat noodles, at the time when a packet cost R2.”

He is now in a happy place with a family of his own, with a fiancé and a child.

“I am very happy. I am in a safe space. I’ve never been this content before. This came with the realisation that my parents are no more. They are not coming back. They ran their race, and this is mine. We are on this earth for a different purpose,” he says.

“The longing for a parent’s love will always be there, having them see how far I have come with my career. But I don’t like being a victim. I always appreciate the life they gave me. When I have negative thoughts, I talk to family and friends, and I have my own family. I never feel like an orphan. I am also a parent to a lot of school kids who look up to me and depend on me. I am someone who had challenges and overcome them.” 

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This year will mark 11 years since he has been playing the role of Kwaito on SABC 1 drama Skeem Saam and he is loving his character's growth.

“I have been an actor for more than two decades but professionally, it will be 11 years. It is a milestone I appreciate,“ he says.

“But I feel like I have just started. There’s still a lot more to do. But I am so grateful that Skeem Saam has allowed me to do the unexpected and contribute positively to my community.”

His role started with Kwaito as a teenage boy and followed his life through university.

“He is now a teacher at Turfloop High. He just got introduced to the teaching, back at the school where he started. He is in a good space, still friends with his childhood friends. He compares himself to the learners and as time goes his story is about to unfold. I don’t want to give away too much.”

Clement appreciates that Skeem Saam does not shy away from reality. 

“The stories are authentic, and people relate, and Kwaito and Clement have many similarities and I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and give myself to the character.”

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