A father’s grief
Phakade must say goodbye to his son Nganono before he could even say hello.
Emotional flood waters will be running high on Monday 21 January as Nganono’s (Xolani Mfeka) funeral rites begin. But the man most in danger of drowning is Nganono’s now- disgraced biological father pastor Phakade (Sandile Dlamini), who will be able to publicly claim his son for the first time only as he buries him. The Bhengu family’s trust was shattered on Wednesday 5 December when a secret held for a quarter of a century came out and everyone learnt that humble Phakade was the biological father of all four of his oil magnate younger brother Ngcolosi’s (Tony Kgoroge) children. Just over one month later, on Tuesday 8 January, the Bhengu family found eldest son Nganono’s murdered body burnt in the boot of his car. Now as they prepare to bury him, the family fall- out continues to worsen.
“For Phakade, it is a very difficult time. He never thought that his wife kaMadonsela (Fundiswa Zwane) would just come and stand in front of the church and disclose this thing. It was a very unfortunate situation, as a pastor,” says Sandile. “It takes courage and responsibility from Phakade when Ngcolosi, who is supposed to be Nganono’s father, cannot even commit to the funeral [although he does have a change of heart on Friday 18 January].” Phakade must step in and take control of it as a leader of the family and the biological father. Sandile adds that “it’s fulfilling because Nganono was Phakade’s son, but it’s also tormenting for Phakade that he could never spend time enjoying life with Nganono as the young man’s father. Just after the secret has come out, it’s the funeral. Worst of all, Nganono was murdered and he was found burnt.”
BOUND BY DEATH
But while Phakade will feel a great loss, the funeral will also be the first time since the secret has come out that Phakade will see all his surviving children standing together. “Everybody knows now that these are his children. Seeing them during that time of grief, one is lost but the rest are around and even Ngcolosi has to agree that, as a family, they need to be together. It’s another moment that brings relief, that he has his family supporting him. The kids, the brother and the community, because they put their issues aside,” says Sandile. “Phakade has a strong relationship with Zithulele (Raphael Griffiths) and Futhi (Nokwanda Khuzwayo). And now as Zithu is the only son left, Phakade feels much better when he is with Zithulele. His bond with his children will grow after this.”
SEEKING A SON
But even with Nganono’s grave still raw dirt, Phakade will find no peace at home. His betrayed and nowbarren wife kaMadonsela has been desperately pressuring him to have a “replacement” son since Wednesday 16 January. “Ai, ai, ai, it’s a difficult time. She will try extreme things to try to make Phakade agree to this. The viewers can expect some trouble there!” hints Sandile.
Nganono will be buried with full Zulu traditions. Sandile reveals a little of what viewers can expect: “The night before the funeral, we have the umlindelo, the vigil night where we have a service as a family and community overnight. And the following day for the funeral service, when we are taking the person to the graveyard, we have as a symbol a branch from a tree that we have to bring home from the site where he was found dead. We bring him home and we move with him, carrying that tree branch that symbolises that he is with us and the ancestors are with us during that period. It brings comfort when they do that as a family, because it helps them to feel that they are moving together. And it means that the deceased one is with the ancestors, which is the most significant thing for us as Africans. And the family has to slaughter a cow for the funeral, traditionally.”
Phakade leads the Bhengus as they take Nganono to be buried.
The Bhengu family are united in grief.
Ngcolosi is arrested for his son’s murder.