Award winning all-rounder artiste Mehluli Dube, otherwise known as Gomez in the local arts fraternity, is a multi-talented creative who has donned all the segments of performance, be it dancing, acting, poetry and singing, you name it.
However, in all the areas he is sharp at, he has proven to be obsessed with the drum, an instrument he started playing at the tender age of 11 back in 2002.
When international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) flooded the country raising awareness about the dreadful HIV/Aids pandemic to the black communities in the early 2000s, a youth centre in Njube suburb’s O square would become a centre of attraction for different NGO’s in pushing their agenda.
Born and raised in Mabuthweni suburb famously known as Number 2, Gomez was among the children who spent their days at the youth centre. This was a spot where talent was groomed.
As he always dreamt of donning a Highlanders jersey someday just like his childhood friend whom he always played with at the youth centre, the nomadic Welcome Ndiweni, Gomez’s dreams were shattered when it was decided he joins Rays of Hope.
Rays of Hope was a theatre group which comprised young children who were taught theatre skills and performance so as to provide edutainment on HIV/Aids, child abuse and gender-based violence among their peers and to the society at large.
This is where Gomez’s journey in the arts started.
“Growing up eKasi the only thing that kept us entertained was playing soccer, as I grew up Mabuthweni we were all accommodated at a community centre in Njube’s O square. This is where my skills in football, cricket and table tennis were shaped.
“However, when I was 11, there was a white guy who visited the centre with some organisation from Canada and it was decided that Rays of Hope must be brought to life so as to provide edutainment to the community and I was among the few who were initiated into the theatre group,” said Gomez.
Retired arts practitioner John Dube who is now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was responsible for moulding Rays of Hope. He is the person who helped Gomez master the basic concepts of the stage.
In the process of rehearsals, Gomez would be trapped in a fracas with fellow drummers as he felt they didn’t roll the drum in flow with his rhythm. Since then, he preferred to specialise in playing the “Konka” for Rays of Hope and he has never looked back.
“I was gifted with a lot of footwork and dancing was part of it, but along the process I realised I was too particular on the sound I was dancing to. I used to complain to the drummers as they didn’t give me the rhythm I expected. So I just gave myself a task to do the right thing in that department,” said the dreadlocked father of one.
After completing his Ordinary level studies at Lobengula Secondary School, Gomez decided to take theatre as a profession and he joined Umkhathi Theatre Works, a decision which saw him catching flights to perform abroad in Spain, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Belgium, USA, and numerous Southern African countries.
His intimacy with the drum has established Gomez as the most sought-after professional percussionist and he has played the drum rhythm for Umkhathi, Nobuntu, Hwabaraty, Jeys Marabini, Drums of Peace, Ngoma iNgoma and Lion King songs in Zambia.
He is also part of the Dream Star Competitions house band.
Gomez is a favourite actor to many playwrights considering he features on different stage plays.
He has featured on Christopher Mlalazi’s Zama My Son and Warrior, Stitsha by Cont Mhlanga, Say Forgiveness by Raisedon Baya, Nkululeko Nkala’s Robert and Amabhandani written by his mentor Mathesu Dube.
He was the outstanding dancer for National Arts Merit Awards in 2014 and 2016 and Outstanding Theatre Actor on the NAMA’s 2017 edition, among other awards on his shelf.