ISN’T IT amazing that 20 years into South Africa’s democracy, there are very few shows on TV that deal with the issues that people on the ground face. It is actually quite tedious to sift through all the rubbish that is screened on TV just to find some meaningful and eye-opening drama.
Yet we love to watch the American dramas and we end up understanding US politics more than our own. Shows like House Of Cards and The Good Wife give us a glimpse of what the US Constitution says.
Yet back home there isn’t anything like that. People remain glued to the banal soapies and silly game shows that pass the time while the real issues pass us by.
Well, that was until now. Coming to your screens is the daring SABC1 drama series Ihawu Lesizwe that goes where most others fear to tread – into the country’s dark past – and looks at where we are today and how much has been achieved since we won our freedom.
It is described as a political thriller that is a mix between films like The Manchurian Candidate and The Enemy of the State.
The story follows a young PhD political scientist student, Sihle Dlamini (played by Tumi Ngumla), who discovers a secret agency that has been operating in South Africa for more than 50 years. Her discovery further links the deaths of five prominent South Africans to the organisation and an impending plan to assassinate the president.
While Ihawu Lesizwe stars top actors like Leroy Gopal and Macks Papo, a character to look out for is Refiloe (Khabonina Qubeka, pictured).
“I fell in love with the script last year because of the questions that we have been asking ourselves for a long time. The question is ‘what happened after 1994, who got what and who didn’t get what?’ Who got the economic freedom and who got the political freedom? Who was robbed and who wasn’t? So this is the debate that South Africa has been having and this production is about our truth at this point in time in South Africa,” said Qubeka.
For Qubeka, although Ihawu Lesizwe unearths truths that are hard for many to swallow, it is essential to bring the issues covered to light to inform South Africans and, most importantly, open up channels for dialogue.
“I am really hoping that this show generates some serious debate among South Africans as we air our views on these subjects. The main questions being, why do the masses not have control over the economy and why it is the hands of a minority?” she said.
Discussing her character, Refiloe, Qubeka told Tonight why, of all the roles that she could have played on the show, she chose that one.
“I fell in love with Refiloe because she almost plays the part of (public prosecutor) Thuli Madonsela as she connects the dots. She is the one who reveals stuff that is linked together. I love playing her as she is a different character from anything else that I have played.
“So she is not conniving or mean, but really neutral and just goes for the facts.
“At times I find her cold because she can’t be emotionally attached to anybody as she is just too deeply into her job and all she wants are facts,” explained Qubeka.
• Ihawu Lesizwe airs on Thursdays at 8.30pm on SABC1.