Tol Ass Mo on building an empire with his children: ‘They know everyone has to earn their keep.’
Mome and Tol Ass Mo. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
The energy levels in this house seem to be reaching fever pitch. Phones are buzzing, kids are up and about and renovation work is under way at this busy Sandton home.
And in the midst of it all is a family going about their business, seemingly unperturbed by the chaos.
Except maybe mom Mome Mahlangu. She’s breastfeeding the newest arrival to her brood while her husband, comedian and TV personality Tol Ass Mo, is busy taking work calls amid the noisy renovations and their chatty five-year-old.
“I’m not coping without my nanny,” Mome (35) says good-naturedly.
The children’s carer, Mavose Nkholi, is away for a funeral, she explains. Their friend, actress Noluthando Meje, is helping to hold the fort while Mavose is gone but things are a bit crazier than usual.
“I don’t know how Mavose manages when I’m away.”
Mome often relies on the nanny while she and Tol Ass Mo build their empire.
And even more now that there’s another addition to their family – TeAmo was born in October last year.
It’s one of the reasons they’re renovating.
Now that their family has grown, Tol Ass Mo, whose real name is Mongezi Mahlangu, and Mome need more room for their three children to play – and for work as well. And there’s work aplenty for this prolific bunch.
Mome recently completed the autumn/summer fashion range for her Mrs Mome Collection. She also runs the family’s production company, Shuga Binga Boo Productions.
She does school runs for Thandolwethu (15) and Khumo (5) while managing her business and single-handedly manages Tol Ass Mo’s career, handling bookings and all the admin related to his MC gigs and comedy shows.
And her husband of seven years hasn’t exactly been idle. In addition to all his entertainment work, he’s also working on a new project.
“I love gaming and I’ve opened my own gaming company, TAM Gaming Solutions,” he says.
“I gathered IT specialists, illustrators and developers to work with me to create games.”
Through the company he plans to teach township kids about competitive gaming and host free tournaments around the country. “I want them to compete with China and Japan. Why can’t a child from eKasi love gaming? That’s my passion, and I’ll make sure it comes to life this year.”
The Mahlangu children are also already contributing to the family coffers.
Thandolwethu, an A-student in Grade 10, is an upand- coming rapper and Khumo is only five but already has her own range of children’s cosmetic products and has 29 000 followers on Instagram.
The couple were criticised for opening social media accounts for their children, but they believe it’s part of building the family business.
When the little girl turned three and started to speak she amused them.
“She was mature for her age, she could articulate well,” Mome says.
“When I’d tell people, they never believed me so I started recording videos and shared them on social media.”
Khumo is a natural, her proud dad adds.
“We couldn’t let the world not see her talent.”
Mome, who shot to fame in the reality show Cream Cartel, and Tol Ass Mo, who headlined his own reality series Mo Love, says they’re working on a show for their daughter.
“There was a demand for Khumo,” he says. “She speaks her mind. But we always instil discipline in our kids.”
They indulge them but they also have rules, Mome says. “They know everyone has to earn their keep. You get rewarded when you do your chores.
“Even TK knows if he wants to be amgood rapper, he needs to do well in school and he has to earn respect from his followers.”
Tol Ass Mo wouldn’t mind growing his brood but his wife isn’t so sure. “I won’t comment on having more kids,” she jokes. “In case my in-laws disown me.”
This family is clearly close-knit and Mome teases her husband as he prepares for our photoshoot. “Mongezi won’t fit into the clothes because he doesn’t work out,” she quips.
Mome’s figure, on the other hand, is flawless a few months after having Te- Amo. “I have a personal trainer and also do some dance lessons with celebrity choreographer Takkies Dinwiddy,” she says.
Her fitness routine started before she became pregnant. “I gained weight and my confidence disappeared.”
When she couldn’t fit into her favourite clothes Mome changed her eating habits and started working out, keeping in shape throughout her pregnancy.
She lost 12kg in two years and now plans to launch a weight-loss lifestyle programme to share her journey with fans “to show them anyone can do it”.
Her new business venture, which will include eating plans and exercise guidelines, has her husband’s backing.
“If you love something, why not make a business out of it?” Tol Ass Mo says.
Having another baby hasn’t slowed them down. “Our children motivate us,” he adds. “They challenge us because they have their own creative ideas and we want to help them achieve them.”
He and Mome tried for a baby for almost a year. “We thought it was never going to happen,” Mome shares.
She’d suffered unbearable morning sickness with her previous pregnancies and suspected she was pregnant when she woke up feeling ill one morning. A home test confirmed her suspicions and Mo, who was performing in Durban at the time, was over the moon when she told him on the phone.
Motherhood has changed her.
“The more kids we have, the better mother I become,” she says. “My natural instincts are switched on and I become more organised.”
Her husband is in awe of her. “She’s Superwoman and does it so gracefully.
“I submit to my wife – not because I’m less of a man, but because she always knows best,” he jokes.
But he’s a hands-on dad. “I grew up without my dad,” he explains. “I learnt the role of a father is very important in a child’s upbringing.”
His father, Fana Mahlangu, spent many years behind bars.
“I was two years old when he got arrested for apartheid-related crimes. My dad was in jail for most of my life,” he says.
He was terrified when his mom, Nombulelo Ngcobondwana, took him to the maximum-security division of Pretoria Correctional Services.
“I visited him three times and it was nothing like the movies,” he recalls. “It was scary – I could hardly see him because the glass was frosted, with a small hole at the bottom so I could hear him.”
His relationship with Fana, who has 13 children, improved over the years.
“My dad was a rolling stone, but no one’s perfect. We learn something new about each other every day.”
His parents are awesome, he adds.
“My mom came from a well-off family. She’s a businesswoman and a former club DJ. My dad is also a businessman.”
The family owns a mall and clubs in Soweto and Fana has a security business. Good business genes clearly run through the generations.