The Legendary Africa Tsoai bio, playing John Maputla and owning Taxis

Africa Tsoai (born 4 July 1967) is a South African actor and businessman. He is best known for the role of Tsokotla on the soap opera, Mokgonyana Mmatswale. As well as playing John Maputla on Skeem Saam.

Full biography: Africa Tsoai

Africa Tsoai (left) and an unknown man (right)
Africa Tsoai (left) and an unknown man (right)

Full name: Africa Tsoai
Date of birth: 4 July 1967 (55 years old)
Place of birth: Hebron-Graskop in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Education: Rudolph College (Graphic Design), Inhouse Records (Sound engineering)
Occupation: Actor, former model, and businessman
Known for: John Maputla on Skeem Saam
Children: 4
Networth: R1.4 million (2022 estimates)
Nationality: South Africa

Early Childhood of Africa Tsoai

Africa Tsoai is a South African actor best known for his role as Mr. Maputla in the SABC1 drama series Skeem Saam. He was was born in Hebron-Graskop in Mpumalanga, a place just below God’s Window. However, Tsoai grew up with his granny, uncles, cousins and extended families as parents. As a result of his own parents bring absent.

Related: Wanda Zuma talks about his childhood- “I tried so hard to fit in.”

The eldest of two boys, Tsoai was born in Graskop but raised in Meadowlands, Soweto. He fell in love with acting in high school between 1980 and 1985. After graduating from high school, he began modeling and appeared in television commercials. At the same time, he appeared as an extra in a number of military films shot in South Africa. Tsoai has collaborated with well-known actors such as Joey Ford, Ronnie Isaacs, Peter Fonda, and Isaac Mavimbela.

However, his big acting break came in 1989. When he was cast in local drama Dawson Goes Home. From there, the roles came flowing as he worked closely with former Safritel – SABC’s in-house production arm. Which helmed many local shows.

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Tsoai almost quit acting because of Safritel

If you ever wondered why Tsoai vanished from TV screens for over 10 years. Before his acting comeback on Skeem Saam? That’s because he had a huge squabble with Safritel. Which in turn left him disillusioned and quitting acting.

“I had given up on acting. My tiff with Safritel was a big thing and because I’m not a media person no-one got to hear about it,” Tsoai is quoted saying.


John Maputla from Skeem Saam
John Maputla from Skeem Saam

After matriculating, Africa studied graphic design at Rudolph College in Johannesburg. He was a self-taught fine arts enthusiast, and got his diploma in 1989. Thereafter, he did a sound engineering course at Inhouse Records in Randburg in 2000.


Highlights of Africa’s career include starting his small business in 1996. His showbiz highlights include ramp work as a model, photographic stills. And, extensive extra work in international movies and SABC dramas. Moreover, behind the scenes he is involved in music, transportation, voice overs, translating, producing and copywriting.

Personal life and family

Africa has four children. His grandmother is his inspiration; she always gave very good advice. He gets angry when people take advantage of him. Moreover, Tsoai has plenty of unfulfilled ambitions and is not afraid of anything. In life, he knows death and disappointment are ‘for sure’. His only regrets not saving more money.

Africa Tsoai interests and hobbies

In his spare time he enjoys fishing and attending soccer matches. He listens to Thobela fm, as it represents his heritage. His favourite movie is Heat. Mind Your Language is his favourite TV show. And, his favourite movie stars are Ving Rhames, Roseline Morapedi and Lydia Mokgokoloshi.

Tsoai is a big soccer fan
Tsoai is a big soccer fan

Africa finds his joy in reading about nature conservation. Because, unlike most things, this brings his mind back to reality. When asked what he would do if granted three wishes. Tsoai said they would be “to be healthy, wealthy and have lots of respect.”

Tsoai is anti-social media

Tsoai immediately warned the Sowetan that he was not a “media person”. And that he was nervous to be speaking with them. Although he was initially guarded, he gradually relaxed along the interviewe. And welcomed us into his world. Africa is a man who does not use social media and does not use emojis. And, has spent years unsuccessfully attempting to deactivate a bogus Facebook account posing as his.

When Tsoai was trending on Twitter as a result of his Skeem Saam storyline, he didn’t know. According to Tsoai, he was only hearing youngsters telling that he was “trending”. At the time he was allegedly trending right behind Jacob Zuma. He was however happy that people were receiving the storyline.

He is also a taxi boss owning his own taxi business

Because of his nuanced portrayal of the casanova characters of John Maputla and Tsokotla, Africa Tsoai is more than just the original TV playboy.

A picture of John Maputla played by Africa Tsoai on Skeem Saam
A picture of John Maputla played by Africa Tsoai on Skeem Saam

Aside from Skeem Saam and Mokgonyana Mmatswale, not much is known about the 53-year-old actor’s fascinating life on Google. During a heartfelt conversation, the Sowetan discovered that he’d been a taxiowner for more than 20 years.

Getting away from the small screen Tsoai has led a private life, avoiding media interviews for the majority of his 30-year entertainment career. But everything changes when he gets on the phone with me, fresh from filming a scene for Skeem Saam.

Related: Mr. Kgomo from Skeem Saam: Lebohang Elephant biography

During his acting hiatus Tsoai focused on his career as a businessman. He’s been a taxi owner for over 20 years and he’s a member of the Dorljota Taxi Association in Roodepoort on the West Rand.

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