MultiChoice and Bomb Productions have announced the production of an epic drama series, Shaka Ilembe headlined by award-winning Nomzamo Mbatha.
The series is set for release in 2023, with filming already underway in South Africa.
Set in the 1700s, Shaka Ilembe chronicles the making of the iconic African king, with iterations from his early childhood through to adulthood.
The lead role of Shaka is played by the talented Lemongang Tsipa (adult king) and newcomer Ntando Zondi (boy king).
Mbatha who headlined Coming To America 2 ,plays Queen Nandi, the revered mother of Shaka, with Thembinkosi Mthembu starring as King Dingiswayo while Wiseman Mncube plays King Zwide.
Mbatha also doubles as the executive produce of the series.
“Being able to bring this important story to the screen with such stellar talent speaks to the heart of MultiChoice’s ongoing commitment and investment in our local entertainment industry. We are committed to telling great African stories and this is a proudly African series told through the lens of Africans for the very first time,” Yolisa Phahle, CEO of General Entertainment & Connected Video at MultiChoice says.
“I am honoured to bring the giant that is Queen Nandi to life. History will remember those who informed its people of where we come from, to better understand who we are. I am fortunate to be part of a project that is much bigger than ourselves and to tell this story in our own language. Impi iyeza,” Mbatha adds.
“It is a cast with deep talent,” says Angus Gibson, Creative Director at Bomb Productions. “It is magical witnessing these performers bring life to characters we only know from the history books. When the cast arrive on set, fully dressed in wardrobe and hair from the period, I am blown away.”
For the past six years producers have consulted historians, academics and family descendants, including the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi to craft an accurate but riveting story.
“This is our appointment with history; we want to capture the authenticity and deepen the understanding of this era,” explained Nhlanhla Mtaka, an executive and cultural advisor.
Striking a balance between historical authenticity and drama is crucial to the plot, Phahle says.
“We want people to learn about our history and culture, but we also want to keep viewers glued in anticipation. This drama seeks to uncover nuggets of history, but creates narrative in the gaps by putting known characters alongside fictional characters in order to keep the story moving,” Phahle says.
MultiChoice is the biggest funder of local content in Africa – producing content in local languages with local actors, and telling stories that resonate culturally.
Shaka Ilembe comes hot on the heels of several successful co-productions such as Trackers, Reyka and most recently Recipes for Love and Murder.
The group’s production quality and their ongoing partnership with international production companies allows for worldwide appeal and promotes South African talent on a global stage.