Bomb Productions, together with MultiChoice Group’s Mzansi Magic, announced last year that they would be embarking on a grand re-telling of the story of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona. Bomb is already at work. Scouts are scouring the country in search of iconic locations and the team has begun to recreate the world in which Shaka lived and reigned.
“We are excited about making an epic and exhilarating drama that is respectful of the real history. Research is key. Telling a story of such complexity does not just happen overnight,” says Teboho Mahlatsi, executive producer and co-creator at Bomb Productions.
“We will depict the great kingdoms of the AmaThethwa, the AmaNdwandwe, AmaQwabe, AmaHlubi and AmaZulu amongst others, and on this epic canvas, we will see the heroic rise of Shaka. We are telling an African story about a great African empire.”
“Starting this journey is history in the making and whilst research and consultation with stakeholders will continue, we are looking forward to unearthing and showcasing the deep pool of talent that lies within South Africa. This is a proudly South African series which we intend to take to the world,” Yolisa Phahle CEO for General Entertainment at MultiChoice Group said.
The first stage of the casting is nearing and teams will soon travel around the country auditioning abashaya indlamu (traditional dancers), izimbongi and izinyosi (praise singers) and amaqhawe enduku (stick fighters). “We are looking for real deep skills, no pretenders,” cautions Mahlatsi.
Casting for actors will get underway later in the year and again the search will be nationwide. “Previous film experience is not necessary. We are looking to unearth new talent who will perform alongside our great, experienced actors,” says Bomb producer, Angus Gibson. “The search for Shaka will be at the heart of the casting – we will be looking for him as a baby, at seven, twelve and eighteen years – as well as the man. Then there is Nandi, Mkabayi, Dingiswayo, Zwide, Ntombase and many other riveting characters whom we see at different stages of their lives.”
According to Nkateko Mabaso, M-Net CEO, “At M-Net we’ve been telling local stories for over 30 years and this is a continuation of our commitment to our industry. This is not a colonial telling, this story will be told from our perspective.”
“South Africa’s history is being re-examined. Old distortions are being questioned and new truths are emerging,” says Jacob Ntshangase, one of the writers. ”To tell the story of Shaka in this moment is a huge responsibility and a great honour.”