Getting To Know The Real Tumi Mhlongo



Never one to let ‘things’ get her down, mother of two, Tumi Mdluli bares it all on the last edition of Mamas & Papas magazine.


“I think if you were to ask me to describe myself, I would likely start of by listing my ‘bad qualities’ as a mother,” this is how our editor/cover mom, Tumi Mdluli, starts off what is our final interview for Mamas & Papas magazine. Like many parents, it’s really unsurprising how tough she is on herself, so while Mia (4) and Anesu (2) try on their outfits for the cover shoot, a sit down with our cover mom reveals what life is like for a working mother of two. In person, Mdluli is very unguarded and endearing. While getting her face done, she’s quick to call her kids to order while they do what kids do best, especially when they’re in a new setting.


Known for being a risk taker, it comes as no surprise that while running Mamas & Papas magazine, Mdluli has also branched out and collaborated with young mothers like herself in projects that have focused mainly on empowering young women with dreams of making it big one day. “I’ve always wanted to be part of something big, I was already part of the Mamas & Papas team, so it only made sense for me to branch into projects that would still benefit mothers like myself,” says Mdluli.

While four-year-old Mia runs away from her little brother, Anesu, who wants to play tag with her, the ‘glam-squad’ starts working on Mdluli for the final call and through all this frenzy, our Q & A session goes underway.

What are you most grateful for?

My family and close friends. They’ve really been there for me through all my highs and lows. I don’t know what life would be like if I didn’t have their support.

When are you the most inspired?

When I’m surrounding by strong women. You really can’t help but be inspired when women doing big things surround you.

What is one thing many people don’t know about you?

That despite being perceived a “people-person” by many, I’m really shy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Appreciate yourself more.” It’s something I’m learning to do, and it’s words I’ll definitely pass to both my children one day when they’re older.

What was the first thing you noticed when you first laid your eyes on both Mia and Anesu?

Their eyes… Though they are both years apart, I remember just looking into their big eyes and being lost in that moment.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you were 16 years old?

That I didn’t have to impress everyone. I think I worried so much about what my peers thought of me, that I sometimes forgot to live in the moment.

What’s the one talent you wish you had?

I wish I could sing. I’ll just leave it there.

What’s one thing you had to learn the hard way?

Letting go. I think sometimes we hold on so hard to things that the thought of moving on without it seems impossible.

Who do you turn to when you’re at your lowest?

God. If there’s one thing my mother taught me, it’s how to pray. I grew up watching her call to God whenever she was in need, and whenever she had something to celebrate.

What has this lockdown taught you about your capabilities as a mother and about yourself?

More than anything, I became more self-aware and as a mother I had to relearn how to be more patient and attentive. On a lighter note, I realised that my sweet angels aren’t always that sweet, and when you don’t have to wake up early in the morning; you appreciate the morning cuddles more.

How has COVID19 affected you directly?

I think by now it’s really no secret that this pandemic has hit the media industry, specifically print media hard. Unfortunately, we weren’t exempt to that, and so after trying our best to restructure, we’ve unfortunately had to take a pause and accept that all good things must come to an end.

How do you see the future of magazines changing as we move on with this pandemic?

We’ve seen many of our favourite titles closing down and many have also gone the digital route, so I think we’re about to see how they will fare as they migrate to the digital space.

Mamas & Papas magazine is coming to an end, any final words?

For me and the team, this has been an amazing learning experience. We’ve always prided ourselves in being a magazine that has rich content for parents and expecting parents, and I’m happy that through all the changes that we have gone through, we managed to come forward with only the best for our readers and their support has been unwavering. We’ve worked with the best, and because of that, they’ve made us the best.

Thank you to our founder, Nawaal Nolwazi Mdluli, for coming up with the vision that birthed the magazine. To the team that started this journey with us from inception 14 years ago, not forgetting the technical team that did the research, the advisory board, our contributors, the first staff members who joined us, the staff members who remained with us since 2013 when we first saw that print media was dying and still we migrated with them on board, thank you.

And last but by no means least, the small team that is still with us, to you all, Thina, Nuraan, Palesa, and Prince, all our external contributors, and all the advertisers who stayed and supported us, thank you so much.

Where to from here?

It’s back to the drawing board. Big things are coming, so watch the space!

Who do you look up and in what way have they influenced the decisions you make?

Definitely my sisters. I’ve seen how hard they’ve worked to be where they are today, and they do so while empowering young black women. Looking up to them has also given me an opportunity to reflect on the importance of family businesses and why they are so sustainable globally. This is why today I am a number #1 believer and supporter of family structured businesses.

What’s one good thing that you’re going to walk away with from this lockdown/pandemic?

A new appreciation of life. With more lives lost daily to COVID-19, you start thinking about how precious life really is.

What is your biggest fear in life?

Not doing enough for my children. I want them to know that whatever it is that I do, it’s with them in mind. As a young mother, I want to strive to ensure that I am present and pervasive in the growth and development of my children.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I’d say my compassionate nature; I think it’s the one thing that makes me relatable to many people. I would also like to be that someone who helped change a ‘stranger’s’ life for the better.

As a woman with a girl child, what’s one thing you would like Mia to learn from you?

To smile in the face of adversity. I want her to be a confident and independent girl.

While raising Anesu, what’s one thing you’re doing right as a mother to a boy?

With Anesu, I first had to teach myself that I’m not raising a little boy, but I’m raising a great man, one who will know how to be gentle, especially when dealing with women. South Africa is shrouded by Gender Based Violence, maybe if we teach our little boys while they’re still young how they should treat women in their lives, we can make the future South Africa a safer one.

What would you like to say to the mamas and papas who have been a loyal reader of Mamas & Papas magazine?

Your support is the reason we’ve made it this far. Thank you alone doesn’t even begin to cover our gratitude, but what else is there to say? Thank you once again for trusting us with your stories. We’ve shared joyful moments, and some really hard ones together. We’ve also learned so much from what you’ve shared with us, and the lessons we walk away with are immeasurable. In return, I hope that we made a positive difference in your life, I hope that we showed you that nothing is impossible if you really put your heart into it. Enjoy parenting your way.





WORDS BY: THINA MTHEMBU

IMAGES: GARETH JACOBS

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