Screw your as­pi­ra­tion!

CityPress - - T# - Charl.blig­naut@city­press.co.za

Gold Dig­gers e.tv (DStv chan­nel 194) Mon­day to Fri­day, 8pm I’m writ­ing this on Mon­day night at 9pm and I’m in a bit of shock. I just watched the first episode of e.tv’s new te­len­ov­ela, Gold Dig­gers, and it was ac­tu­ally re­ally good.

Yes, I’m a cynic, and I was ex­pect­ing the worst – the usual un­even per­for­mances, dodgy stu­dio in­te­ri­ors and pa­tro­n­is­ing story lines – but this is a classy pro­duc­tion with a mostly black cre­ative team to­tally re­vis­ing the ar­che­typal South African story: the na­tion built on gold.

But this is noth­ing like The Vil­lagers, the first English drama on SABC in 1976 that would later be sort of rein­vented as Isidingo – both are set on mines.

So far, in Gold Dig­gers, there are no snootily stressed mine bosses and their beau­ti­ful daugh­ters – the as­pi­ra­tional up­per class with more money and more prob­lems than the mine work­ers. In­stead, there are the min­ers and the illegal min­ers, the Zama Za­mas.

The queen of the scene is Tina Jaxa. She brings her soap leg­end as a bad, bitchy girl to her role as a teacher in a vil­lage, and it’s enough to make her Alexis frig­gin’ Car­ring­ton. She’s locked in con­flict with her neigh­bour, her hus­band’s first wife.

The hus­band, Pa­trick, is played by Mbon­geni Ngema (well, at least for the first 50 episodes if re­ports are true that he walked off set and had to be re­placed). He’s good, and I be­lieve his per­for­mance.

He is a mid­dle-aged mine worker at the end of his tether, de­mand­ing a raise, lob­by­ing the union, con­sol­i­dat­ing the strike. In sev­eral scenes, the ghosts of Marikana are rat­tled from their cages by (badly sound-ef­fected) gun bat­tles where mine work­ers are shot down.

Gold Dig­gers is not about *that* kind of gold dig­ger – sexy peo­ple hook­ing up with rich men for nice things. It’s about the women who must sur­vive on a mine worker’s mis­er­able salary, and still build their fam­i­lies and lega­cies.

As bills in­crease and money be­comes even tighter, Pa­trick will – says the press re­lease – be tempted to join the Zama Za­mas.

Pit­ting it­self against Gen­er­a­tions The Legacy, Gold Dig­gers has quite sim­ply erased the petty con­cerns of the rul­ing class to fo­cus in­stead on the worker.

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