Mu­vhango's 20 years of ups and downs

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Zenoyise John

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.


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.


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.

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