After watching the first episode of Mzansi Magic’s new drama, eHostela, I was pleasantly surprised that there were only two scenes of violence in the 60-minute episode.
When a show is based on the intricate world of izinkabi (paid assassins), one naturally expects lots of bullets and blood. It was just the first of a 13-episode series.
Produced by Stained Glass Productions, the show chronicles the life of Mndeni (played by Thobani Nzuza), a young inkabi. Mndeni, the adopted son of respected ring leader Mancinza (played by Bheki Sibiya), has ambitions of leaving this world behind to focus on his true passion - Maskandi music.
All seems to be going to plan with Mndeni’s commitment to one last hit, but his loyalty to the family is suddenly questioned when he meets Khethiwe (played by Lungelo Mpangase) at a Maskandi competition and allows himself to fall in love.
The thorny details of his last hit are soon revealed, and the young assassin’s life is suddenly plunged into turmoil, because his last hit was the father of the woman he has fallen madly in love with.
A new face to TV but not to acting, Nzuza, who started his career in theatre after graduating from the Durban University of Technology is an award-winning writer. “I never ever thought I would be an actor, growing up I didn’t even consider it as a career.
"My passion started when I would go to my community arts centre and I was exposed to different art forms,” Nzuza said.
He bagged the role of Mndeni the traditional way, while he was still busy with a production at the Market Theatre. “I heard about the auditions and went for them, but I did not know all the characters so I ended up auditioning for the role of a 45-year-old man.
"When I met my friend and co-star Wiseman Mncube, who plays my brother Jama, he asked me about the audition and I told him. He laughed and said I had auditioned for the wrong character. I went back and thankfully they liked me,” he said.
Although he had challenges working on the set of a television show, he does admit to having a challenge with Mndeni. “I am a very emotional person and I have a soft heart, I want people to be okay and I always want to help others. As much as he wants to stop being an inkabi, he still has no problem shooting someone dead and moving on with his life, and he does not show a lot of emotion,” he said.
The rising star said he was attracted to the authenticity of the script. “I am a writer myself so when I saw the full script I loved it. I loved its rawness and authenticity. This story is a true reflection of what happens in our communities.
"I was also attracted to Mndeni and his dream to get out of the inkabi business, because I somehow relate to him. Because when I found my passion in acting, all I wanted to do was act and follow that dream which comes with many sacrifices.”
eHostela was shot in Durban at the infamous KwaMashu Hostel. When asked whether we needed another show that showcases violence in South Africa, Nzuza said, “That’s a difficult question but I think we do.
“We need to tell stories that are a true reflection of our society. Growing up we all knew about this life, from KZN to Gauteng. For me, it’s also important that we tell our own stories in our own way because we are best to tell our stories.”
eHostela airs Sundays at 8pm on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161.