Shaka iLembe is a tale of sons. This tale opens in the first episode with Princess Nandi, whose son will become the mighty Shaka, our title character. But let’s not skip ahead. The path of destiny begins with Nandi meeting Senzangakhona. He is a prince, the son of King Jama. We meet this king as an old man, and it’s not long before his health fails. Before he departs, a sanusi foretells a great prophecy about his heir.
As the son of Jama, Senzangakhona believes this to be a foretelling of his own rise to power. His sister Mkabayi wisely observes that the prophecy did not specify who the great lion would be. But Senzangakhona chooses to ignore her and when he claims his place as king, this belief is even more firmly cemented in his mind ... to the point that he decides not to allow Mkabayi into his council. You know what they say about pride and falls. Senzangakhona is certainly cocky, and the latest episode lowered his esteem in many viewers’ eyes.
But when it comes to the villain of the piece, pride of place goes to Zwide of the Ndwandwe. Villains are often the most interesting characters and Zwide and his mother, Queen Ntombazi, are no exception. Episode after episode, they continue to captivate us.
He might go about it the wrong way, but Zwide’s motives are not selfish or baseless. After all, his main goal is to protect and provide for his people during difficult times. His efforts elevate his position, one that rises even more when he becomes king upon the death of his father, King Langa. But could his hold on the throne be tenuous? We know his father was murdered and if this truth comes out, it could spell trouble for Zwide.
Interestingly, Zwide has become something of a father figure himself, in his relationship with Soshangane. It may have started turbulently (what with having killed his father and all), but the young boy has become something of a surrogate son, as Zwide has taken the boy under his wing … even if their life lessons tend to focus a bit much on war and revenge.
Yet Zwide would not even be on the throne if circumstances had been different. Were it not for his physique, his older (and secret) brother Goloza would be rising in the ranks. Normally, a child like Goloza would have been discarded at birth. This did happen to the newborn, but his mother, Ntombazi, could not bear to part with her son and smuggled him into secret caves to be raised by hyenas. There’s no denying that her love for Zwide and Goloza is very fierce.
Then there’s Gondogwana, son of King Jobe. Gondogwana is “brave of heart, with a curious mind” and could go far in the Mthethwa clan, were it not for his father. Unfortunately, Jobe’s mind has started to fail, leading him to making rash and irrational decisions. He also plays favourites, holding a special place for Mawewe. This is a son who is sixth in line to the throne and is prepared to work hard (and dirty) to rise to the throne … with a little help from Ntombazi. But the fallout from their meeting is heartbreaking and still has us reeling.
Of course, if you were paying attention in history class, you’ll know that Ntombazi was not the only fierce mother around. Nandi was a woman who was protective of her children and Shaka became devoted to her. Now that our story has arrived at the point of Shaka’s birth, it’s time to watch the rise of another son. We can’t wait to watch his destiny unfold.
Make sure you tune in every Sunday night at 20:00 on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) or stream live from the DStv App via web or mobile.
For more interesting info on the series, produced by the acclaimed Bomb Productions, visit the show page here or follow #ShakaiLembeMzansi on social media. Shaka iLembe is headline sponsored by Telkom. Associate sponsors are Grant’s Whisky and LottoStar, while tactical sponsors are Santam and Toyota SA.