If manipulative, cunning and seductive was a drink, it would come in an ice-cold glass of Mary Ndlovu (Nthati Moshesh) – the matriarch leading new local telenovela Isono.
When the daily drama begins on Monday, 28 September on BET (DStv 129) at 21:30, Mary is under the spotlight as this year’s recipient of the annual Gauteng Community Builder of the Year Award. Around the streets of Vosloorus, in the east of Johannesburg, Mother Mary, as she’s affectionately known, is held in the highest regard. A heroine to many. She’s known as the woman who’s dedicated her life to giving back and opening her doors to the less fortunate at her orphanage, House of Grace. How can you not fall for her endearing, signature red skirt suit, which is always paired with a matching lipstick and those black kitten heels?
Don’t let the aesthetics and success story deceive you. Behind the façade, Mary is a ruthless criminal involved in illicit operations. “In a few words, Mary is a hustler and a survivor, who’s overcome difficult circumstances to be the woman she is today,” explains Nthati. Mary is a woman with her fingers in many pots: she’s in charge of the family empire. She’s also a single mother – not the best, but she tries. Above all, she’s one of the greatest gang leaders that Vosloorus has ever seen.
Here’s a warning: don’t come for her, unless she sends for you!
The gospel according to Mary
In her mind, Mary is untouchable. She’s been on the wrong side of the law for decades without getting caught. She’s certain that she’ll die one of Vosloorus’ most powerful gangsters. Assassinating people left, right and centre to get her way, and seducing others if push comes to shove. “Because Mary is a woman, many disregard her influence, but Mary can do what any man can, even better. She can beat men at their own game. We’re talking about a woman who’s highly intelligent and extremely calculated,” explains Nthati.
Mother Mary as the mom
Mary has a complex relationship with her kids. Instead of cradling her kids, she’d rather teach them to hold a gun and pull the trigger. She’s controlling as a mom, particularly with her son Gabriel (Bohang Moeko). “Mary raised Gabriel to take over the reins. She taught him everything he knows about their gang, but he has a conscience and would like nothing else than to leave their dodgy lifestyle,” says Nthati.
It’s no secret that Gabriel resents his mother. He is her voice of reason, which further strains their already-rocky mother-son bond. “Mary would prefer if he didn’t have a moral compass. Gabriel is a constant reminder that she isn't a good mom. He has all these principles that she lacks and he deviates from that which she raised him to be,” says Nthati.
Taunted by trauma
While Mary also grew up at a homeless shelter, she uses her role as a philanthropist for ill-gotten gains. She takes advantage of the kids at House of Grace and she couldn’t be bothered.
“Not everyone heals from their childhood trauma. You’d think that because she’s been through what these kids go through daily, she’d treat them better. Is it because she’s wounded that she takes advantage of others? Or is she justified to hurt others because she’s still in pain?” asks Nthati, adding that Isono emphasises on duality of character traits. The idea that everyone has a bit of good and bad in them, but one will always prevail. “You will see in many of the scenes that Mary is still battling from past agony. It shaped her into the tough woman she is today, but because she hasn’t dealt with her childhood issues, she subjects her kids to the same trauma,” explains Nthati.
Get in on the action
BET is available on DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact. Now, for four weeks only, the channel will be available on DStv Family and DStv Access as well!
This means that more valued DStv customers can enjoy the start of this new hit show. Watch BET (DStv 129) from 28 September.
Keen to upgrade your DStv package so you can enjoy BET and more awesome channels all the time? No problem – simply click here to Get DStv today.
Watch Isono, Mondays-Thursdays from Monday, 28 September on BET (DStv 129) at 21:30
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