Muvhango's 20 years of ups and downs
WHEN Muvhango’s executive producer, Duma ka Ndlovu, pitched the show to the SABC bosses more than 20 years ago, it was rejected. Not one to take “no” for an answer, Duma went back to the drawing board and improved his script, which later got a nod.
Initially, the show was given 13 episodes but it proved to have a winning formula with its intriguing storyline. Twenty years later, the show is still going strong and is one of the mostwatched soapie on South African TV boasting 3,5 million viewers every weeknight.
STORIES THAT KEEP VIEWERS INTRIGUED
A lot has changed on Muvhango since it debuted in 1997, but those storylines have remained unwavering. Over the past 20 years, Muvhango has told just about every story imaginable – from kidnappings to faked deaths and witchcraft – keeping millions of viewers on the edge of their seats. The jaw-dropping twists and never-ending power struggles are all hallmarks of Muvhango. Duma says the show’s winning formula lies in its authenticity.
“We broke a lot of conventions in telling our story. We wanted to give the African woman the respect that she deserves. We wanted to give the rural woman power,” says Duma. He adds that they wanted to create content that is suitable for an African family to watch and they decided that they were not going to have scenes where people kiss, smoke or drink alcohol.
The way to the top was not a walk in the park for this beloved soapie. The show has had its ups and downs – from actor strikes to threats by the SABC to take the show off air because of its behindthe-scenes shenanigans. The multilingual show that is set in Thate Village in Limpopo has also seen actors come and go. Below are actors who keep viewers glued to their screens every day.
She plays Thandaza Mokoena who is a shrewd businesswoman. She is one of the two remaining people who started with the show. Duma says that Sindi encompasses what
Muvhango is all about. “Sindi is not a celebrity. There are no celebrities at Muvhango,” he says.
He adds that he is impressed by Sindi’s humility. “There were times when we did not pay Sindi for the whole year and we didn’t realise it. We were shocked when we discovered this and she never complained.”
Sindi says her journey on Muvhango has been fulfilling and rewarding.
“The love we get from people is amazing. I have been treated like royalty by Muvhango fans. At some stage, an elderly woman bought me a room divider. I refused to take it when I realised that she bought it on hire purchase,” she says.
He made his TV debut on the old
Generations. Then he joined Muvhango in 2003 as James Motsamai and he was only earning R2 500. He was fired from Generations because he questioned producers about the growth of his character Dingaan, who never said a word on the show. He is now one of the senior actors on Muvhango and also helps in casting for the show.
He plays KK Mulaudzi and before he joined the show in 2008, he worked as a griller at Wimpy. He was in Johannesburg when he heard there were auditions in Venda. He went to the auditions and got the role. He is such a favourite on the show that when Muvhango producers killed his character viewers rioted. The producers had to raise him from the dead to appease the fans after they threatened to boycott the soapie.
BRIAN TEMBA MAKIWANE
He plays Ranthumeng. He was in London playing the role of Simba in The
Lion King when the role was created for him. At first, he turned the job down.
Muvhango later got Themba Nofemele for the job but he was fired due to misbehaving. “It was hard getting in a role that big. I was nervous because there was someone doing this for a long time. I was a stage guy. TV for me was very foreign but I took things in my stride,” he says.
She plays Suzan, the wife of Chief Azwindini. She joined the soapie when it first debuted in 1997. She landed the role after being discovered by Duma who literally handed her the role. She had no acting background. “The show made me an actress. I am so grateful for that,” says Maumela.
He plays the character of the stubborn mayor Mulalo Mukwevho. He says after joining the show in 2008, Duma forced him to go to university. When he first joined the show, he was only 19 years old and the youngest of them all. “Duma increased my salary so I could afford to pay for my fees. Today I have a national diploma in logistics management and I am busy with my B-Tech,” says Sydney, whose mother was a street hawker.
The gorgeous actress, who plays Teboho, landed the job in 2012. She was scouted in Lesotho. When she got the job, her mother took her to the salon to do her hair on debt so she could look good on TV. To her disappointment, Duma instructed the Muvhango hair stylist to cut her hair.