June can’t come fast enough, because with it comes the start of Shaka iLembe, the highly anticipated historical drama following the rise of a great king. But 18 June is still a few weeks away, so until that time we’ve compiled your go-to guide for everything you need to know about the show, from A to Z.
From Nguni cattle to a horse, leopard, hyena, springbok, lion, and elephant, the trailers have given us a glimpse of the wide variety of animals we can expect to see.
The production company that has brought this majestic tale to life.
With more than 2 000 costumes made for the production, 8 000 strings of beads, and more than 420 hairstyles and wigs, it’s clear that painstaking attention has been paid to every detail when it comes to the costume design, as well as hair and makeup.
Dawn Thandeka King
The SAFTA-winning actress, known for her work in Uzalo, DiepCity, and Lockdown, plays Princess Mkabayi kaJama, King Jama’s daughter and sister to King Senzangakhona.
This is the time in which the story is set, starting before Shaka’s birth in 1787.
Shaka iLembe started shooting in 2022, but has been in the making for six years.
Whether we’re talking production scale, stories, kings, or queens, all will deliver greatness.
Carefully and thoroughly researched, the production has worked alongside historians, academics, and family descendants to bring history alive in the telling of Shaka iLembe. But this is still a show, so a smattering of dramatic license is allowed. Furthermore, even historical accounts and depictions of Shaka vary, and trying to nail down exact dates and details can prove tricky.
The show will be in isiZulu with English subtitles.
Make a note on your calendars! Sunday 18 June is THE day.
The province naturally provides the backdrop for the story and is where a lot of the filming took place.
Playing the title character himself is Lemogang Tsipa. We’ll also see a younger version of Shaka, played by Ntando Zondi.
Channel 161 is where all the action will happen.
Playing Queen Nandi is the actress who made waves in Coming 2 America; but she’s also well known, and beloved, for the role she played in Isibaya.
He may have become king, but it was a tough struggle to the top for Shaka.
Royal praise singer Inyosi Mdletshe visited the sets that were built for the show to pay respect to the ancestors and bless the production.
Q is a tricky letter, so we had to get clever here and lead with a last name. The renowned Isidingo actress Khabonina Qubeka starred in the movie She is King, but now she is queen as she takes on the role of Queen Ntombazi in Shaka iLembe.
Naturally, right? This is a show about kings and queens, after all! And there was royalty on set too, as the royal family, including the former and current Zulu king, were consulted for the show.
We know Radebe is going to bring a lot of might and power to his role as Shaka’s father, King Senzangakhona … but yoh, there’s also no denying that it’s very clear why he’s a certified personal trainer.
The star of The River and Showmax’s Adulting plays King Dingiswayo.
Uthando lukamama nendodana yakhe
A mother and a son’s love … a major part of the story, of course, since Nandi was a fierce and protective mother and Shaka was devoted to her.
Known for Generations, Isibaya, Isidingo, and The Wife, Vusi Kunene is part of an incredible ensemble that includes Abdul Khoza, Calvin Ratladi, Phumlani Mndebele, Don Mlangeni, and Hope Mbhele.
The SAFTA-winning actor, who is known for his work in Uzalo and The Wife takes on the role, of King Zwide kaLanga.
We had to get clever with the alphabet again to fit in X. Ziya Xulu is another great actress you’ll get to watch in Shaka iLembe, along with Mduduzi Mabaso, Sibonile Ngubane, Ayanda Borotho, and Wanda Zuma.
That’s you! Tuning in to watch every Sunday at 20:00, come 18 June.
A language. A kingdom. A people.
Shaka iLembe starts Sunday 18 June at 20:00 on Mzansi Magic channel 161. Follow the conversation on social media using #ShakaiLembeMzansi.