“I lived in America for 15 years and I have never watched the Bold and the Beautiful. Not even once. I came to South Africa, black people were rushing home to watch the Bold and the Beautiful, and I said [there is something] wrong with this picture, it was sad,” said Muvhango creator and writer Duma Ndlovu.
Ndlovu said this is what persuaded him to start writing Muvhango and, after being rejected numerous times, his goal came to life in 1997.
"I realised that Black people wanted to see themselves , they wanted to hear their own languages, they want to see their aunts and uncles...they wanted to wake up and television is the mirror of who they are.”
With over 3.5 million viewers, the local soapie is turning 20 and the organisers pulled out all the stops to mark this momentous occasion.
To commemorate the wonderful journey, the celebrations began with a Visual Art Installation at Melrose Arch Gallery, with canapes and cocktails.
Venda dancers welcomed the guests with traditional songs.
Glitz and glamour were the order of the night as the stars took strolls down memory lane, with Dingaan Mokebe ka Khumalo who plays James acting as the MC.
Chatting to him while the starters were served, he chuckled as he recalled his 15 years with the show.
“My 15 years in Muvhango has been less downs and more ups. Obviously, we had the passing of Lindi Chibi who played Doobsie. It was a very difficult year, the same year some of our crew members got involved in a car accident... that year was horrible, it’s the one year I don’t wish to remember.”
Mokebe ka Khumalo, who started out as a mute barman on Generations, said he has no plans to leave Muvhango anytime soon.
“I will still be on Muvhango for as long as the audience still wants me, Muvhango is home”.Ndlovu said he always wanted to tell African stories, stories that will start a conversation within African communities.
“We wanted to tell an African story. When I came back from exile, I watched the scope of television in South Africa and it was sad because there were no African stories and I said to myself, 'what kind of a country is this where there are no African stories'.”
Ndlovu took the opportunity to thank the cast, especially Sindi Dlathu, one of the stars who’s been with the show since inception.
Duma Ndlovu. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
“We have grown amazingly in the past 20 years - in the first year, we forgot to pay Sindi, and when we called her for the second season, she said ‘Bhut Duma, they haven't paid me still’, so we had to hustle money to pay her and 20 years later she’s still here. Sindi is one of the two people who have been with the show since day one and I really want to thank her. She is an epitome of what a star should be, she is not a celebrity."
Ndlovu is proud that Muvhango is the only soapie in South Africa in which actors don’t kiss, drink alcohol and smoke.
“One day I was watching TV with my mother, my siblings, my grandkids and other family and people were kissing and everyone was uncomfortable.
“That’s when I took a conscious decision that I want to create content that will make African family comfortable.
"We are not going to have people kissing because it’s not necessary. We were rejected, we were told it’s not going to make great television. Then we said our society is consumed by alcohol. Then we said we’re not going to see anyone drinking alcohol on Muvhango, there won't be anyone smoking in Muvhango and it had remained like that since."
Dlathu, who doesn’t look a year older than 25, graced the stage and she said: "It has been a rewarding and fulfilling journey, and the love we’ve been getting from the supporters of Muvhango is truly overwhelming.
She also recalls an interesting story of a lady who bought her furniture on “hire purchase”.
“She bought me a room divider. I was going to take it and when I found out that she bought it on hire purchase, I said 'ma, how are you going to make monthly repayments?' I had to decline the gift.
But the love has been insane in the past two decades.”
*Muvhango airs every Monday to Friday at 9pm on SABC2.