MultiChoice and Bomb Productions are excited to announce that production on the epic drama series Shaka Ilembe, which will be released in 2023, has begun and is currently filming in South Africa, employing over 8000 people.
Shaka Ilembe, set in the 1700s, tells the story of the iconic African king’s development, with iterations ranging from his early childhood to adulthood.
Lemongang Tsipa (adult king) and newcomer Ntando Zondi are the two main actors playing Shaka (boy king).
The cast is led by Nomzamo Mbatha, the breakout star of Amazon’s Coming 2 America, who plays Queen Nandi, Shaka’s revered mother, with Thembinkosi Mthembu as King Dingiswayo and Wiseman Mncube as King Zwide.
Mbatha will also serve as the series’ executive producer.
“Bringing this important story to the screen with such stellar talent exemplifies MultiChoice’s ongoing commitment and investment in our local entertainment industry.”
“We are committed to telling great African stories, and for the first time, this is a proudly African series told through the lens of Africans,” said Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice’s CEO of General Entertainment & Connected Video.
“It is an honor for me to bring Queen Nandi to life.”
History will remember those who taught their people about their ancestors in order for them to better understand who they are.
I am fortunate to be a part of a much larger project and to tell this story in our own language.
Mbatha exclaimed, “Impi iyeza!”
“It’s a cast with a lot of talent,” Angus Gibson, Creative Director at Bomb Productions, added.
“It’s magical to see these actors bring to life characters we only know from history books.”
“I am blown away when the cast arrives on set, fully dressed in period wardrobe and hair.”
The six-year production involved historians, academics, and family descendants, including the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
“This is our meeting with history; we want to capture the authenticity and deepen our understanding of this era,” Nhlanhla Mtaka, an executive and cultural advisor, explained.
The plot depends on striking a balance between historical accuracy and drama.
“We want people to learn about our history and culture, but we also want viewers to be glued to the screen in anticipation.”
“This drama seeks to unearth nuggets of history while filling in the gaps with narrative by putting known characters alongside fictional characters to keep the story moving,” Phahle continued.
MultiChoice is Africa’s largest funder of local content, producing content in local languages with local actors and telling culturally relevant stories.
This production follows a string of successful co-productions, including Trackers, Reyka, and, most recently, Recipes for Love and Murder.
The group’s production quality, as well as their ongoing collaboration with international production companies, allows for global appeal and promotes South African talent on a global stage.