Skeem Saam has been a highpoint on social media discourse following a number of intriguing storylines for some time. There’s hardly a dull moment on the SABC1 drama series.
It boasts a talented cast that’s exceptionally balanced in terms of youth and experience - a factor that adds to its quality viewing.
Lydia Mokgokoloshi, 78, the matriarch of the Sepedi production, is among the oldest actors in the country. And remarkably, like old wine, she is maturing with age.
In an industry that is notorious for retiring its best talent when they grow old, it is commendable that the Skeem Saam creators have realised the importance of having a wise, experienced and gifted actor in their midst.
Mokgokoloshi plays Koko Mantsha, a no-nonsense granny who has to reckon with the challenges of life her daughter Charity Mabu (Makgofe Moagi) and grandson Katlego Pietersen (Patrick Seleka) sometimes have to grow through.
The retired schoolteacher and daughter of a priest in the Evangelical Lutheran Church was born in 1939 in Botlokwa, Limpopo and brings a strong moral authority to her role. It is a far cry from her previous parts in which she displayed scorn and intolerance for her children’s love interests. Her first role was as a cruel mother-in-law in Ngwanaka O Kae? (Where’s My Child?), a 1984 13-part drama series that was among the first in the Sepedi language.
It wasn’t a high profile role but gave her the necessary platform to showcase her abilities on the screen. And it was an instant hit thanks to the notoriety of one of the characters, a child snatcher known as Masenyolo.
A bigger role followed in Bophelo Ke Semphekgo (Life Is a Merry-Go-Round) in 1989. As in the previous one, she also played a problematic mother-in-law. A generation after her debut role, this year the industry has decided to deservedly honour her efforts with a Golden Horn Lifetime Achievement Award.
Since its launch in 2014 on the youthful channel, Skeem Saam has tackled a number of socially topical themes that includes peer pressures of adolescence and love across the colour line.
It has introduced young and exciting talents of actors such as Patrick Seleka (Katlego Pietersen), Clement Maosa (Kwaito Seakamela), Cornet Mamabolo (Tbose Maputla) and Mlungisi Mathe (Emkay Biyela).
The recent episodes that involved Katlego’s suspension from the Polokwane Culinary Academy where he is training as a chef have been gripping.
It is a school that prides itself in producing world-class chefs and when Katlego is embroiled in a case of stealing an exam paper, the scandal puts his future ambitions on the line.
But like a real guardian and parent, Koko rises to the occasion to defend her grandson’s honour who, it has transpired, was actually framed.
Skeem Saam airs on SABC1 at 6pm week days.