On Wednesday, Showmax dropped its original three-part reality series, “Uthando Lodumo”, featuring Bongekile “Babes Wodumo” Simelane and Mandla “Mampintsha” Maphumulo.
Of course, there was plenty of interest to be a fly on the wall in the life of one of SA’s most controversial couples.
More so, after that disturbing video of Mampintsha beating Babes went viral in 2019.
The country was outraged. Although the couple went to court over the alleged assault, they settled the matter out of court.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
People were furious when the celebrity couple reconciled and got engaged last year. Several weeks ago, they welcomed a baby boy.
Now viewers are invited to witness the events in the build up to the wedding, which include the lobola negotiations.
If I didn’t know better, I would have believed the lovey-dovey behaviour hook, line and sinker.
And that’s the thing about reality TV; when someone is in front of the camera long enough, it's difficult to mask their true colours.
That’s my issue with the series, which is directed and produced by Thomas Gumede and Lungile Radu through Parental Advisory. It feels staged.
Although I applaud Gumede and Radu for latching onto the idea of a reality show with this particular couple. Curiosity is great for ratings.
The Queen of Gqom and Mampintsha’s relationship is tricky in that it mixes business and pleasure.
Also, if their timeline is to be believed, they’ve been together for nine years.
At the outset, the gender-based violence incident is addressed during the lobola negotiations.
Ready to put a ring on it, Mampintsha has to first make amends to the Simelanes. But his letter of apology is rejected.
Before the Swati and Zulu union can take place, he has to man up and apologise to her parents in person.
In the show, he says, “I wanted to come in person and apologise for the many mistakes and for the big drama that hurt everyone, because I know that's the root of our misunderstandings.
“I want to profusely apologise to you, Ma, in an effort to restore our lovely relationship, and to you, sir, as I had already apologised to Babes… I’m really sorry.”
Later on, in the diary session, he says, “I'd advise others to never do what I did because it's like an incurable disease.”
With the elephant in the room out of the way, the series showcases Mampintsha’s public proposal live on air in the studios at Gagasi FM, preparations for the lobola payment as well as all the traditional planning and, of course, the outfits for the bride and groom.
As with most weddings, there is a bit of drama in play, too.
Viewers get to witness Babes’ interaction with her “ghetto” mother-in-law, who is a bit on the overbearing side. But she handles the situation well.
And the cameras are invited to the counselling session with their pastor ahead of the big day.
The session was interesting as issues of infidelity were raised on both sides with the couple eventually reaffirming their commitment to each other.
Throughout the series, it is also clear that their flashy lifestyle is a bedrock.
Is the series interesting? Yes. “Is it sincere?” Well, that’s where the question mark comes in and what I grappled with most.
It feels like we are being fed a narrative with a hidden agenda. Also, the scenes feel like a set up.
I’m not cocky enough to think this reality show isn’t going to change public opinion of the couple and their powerful “Indian Love”.
At the end of the day, it’s really not about what we think or say either.
We simply have to make peace with the poignant words of Babes: “Our love is very famous… Our journey hasn't been easy but we managed to make it work.
“So whoever has a problem with us will eventually fall in line.”
“Uthando Lodumo” is currently streaming on Showmax.