* An entertainment package and a fictional interpretation of historical events
* But taken care to ensure that Nguni culture is authentically portrayed and respected
By Duncan Mlanjira
On Sunday, June 18 at 20:00 central African time (CAT), DStv will launch a 12-part series, SHAKA iLEMBE, that will tell the story of the legendary Zulu King, Shaka and the events that shaped his remarkable life.
A statement from MultiChoice says while the series is an entertainment package and a fictional interpretation of historical events, producers Bomb Productions have taken care to ensure that Nguni culture is authentically portrayed and respected.
Fittingly, SHAKA iLEMBE was filmed in 4K, with state-of-the-art visual effects, ensuring the best screen treatment for the sweeping dynastic saga that encompasses the Zulu, Elangeni, Hlubi, Mthethwa and Ndwandwe clans.
Wikipedia records that Shaka kaSenzangakhona (about 1787–September 22, 1828) was the king of the Zulu Kingdom from 1816 to 1828 — one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu — who ordered wide-reaching reforms that re-organized the military into a formidable force.
He was born near present-day Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal Province as son of the Zulu King Senzangakhona kaJama and spurned as an illegitimate son, Shaka spent his childhood in his mother’s settlements, where he was initiated into a fighting unit called ibutho lempi), serving as a warrior under Inkosi Dingiswayo.
King Shaka further refined the ibutho military system and, with the Mthethwa Paramouncy’s support over the next several years, forged alliances with his smaller neighbours to counter rival clan, Ndwandwe raids from the north.
The initial Zulu maneuvers were primarily defensive, as King Shaka preferred to apply pressure diplomatically, with an occasional strategic assassination. His reforms of local society built on existing structures.
Although he preferred social and propagandistic political methods, he also engaged in a number of battles.
Thus the production of SHAKA iLEMBE, the fictional interpretation of historical events but taken care to ensure that Nguni culture is authentically portrayed and respected.
The statement from MultiChoice quotes general entertainment chief executive officer (CEO), Nomsa Philiso as saying in Johannesburg, South Africa that: “SHAKA iLEMBErepresents the best of African storytelling.
“It was created for a local market, but it is also, most certainly, a global television property. This is an epic series, told on an epic scale and it is destined to keep audiences tuned in with strong plotlines, stunning visuals, an evocative soundtrack, and a range of powerhouse performances.”
At the announcement, the media were shown an exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming series and further quoted Philiso as reiterating that the launch date will be a highlight on the DStv calendar.
“We are so excited for our audiences to see SHAKA iLEMBE, and embrace this world of Kings, Queens, prophets, warriors, strategists, and lovers. The cast and crew have done an outstanding job in telling this majestic, larger than life story.
“As a result, it is a polished and compelling drama series filled with conflict, action, romance, betrayal, sacrifice, struggle, triumph, and loss.”
SHAKA iLEMBE features a stellar cast, that brings together the talents of Nomzamo Mbatha — who played Mirembe in the 2021 film Coming to America 2) — as well as Lemogang Tsipa (who stars in the title role); Thembinkosi Mthembu (who played Mabutho in The River); Wiseman Mncube (from The Wife); Mondli Makhoba (from The Wife); Sthandiwe Kgoroge and introduces Ntando Zondi.
Starring alongside them will be Abdul Khoza (from The Wife); living legends Don Mlangeni and Vusi Kunene among many others, making SHAKA iLEMBE a powerful ensemble drama.
Its creative team is helmed by Oscar nominated director Angus Gibson, executive producers Nomzamo Mbatha, Nhlanhla Mtaka and Desiree Markgraaff, working with Professor Hlonipha Mokoena (cultural & historical advisor).
It is one of the biggest productions fully funded by MultiChoice Group as part of their expansive local content slate.
For more information on SHAKA iLEMBE, viewers are encouraged to visit www.dstv.com/mzansimagic or follow the hashtag #ShakaiLembeMzansi on social media.