MATRIARCH: Veteran actress Florence Masebe plays a leading role in the new 13-part isiNdebele drama series to be aired on SABC1 from September 30 in celebration of Heritage Month.
For the first time in the history of the SABC, drama enthusiasts will be shown an isiNdebele language drama series, iKani, from September 30.

The 13-part drama series is produced by Coal Stove Pictures, and it focuses on a young artist called Khaya who is an excellent painter.

Khaya has a troubled journey in life and is unable to paint the way she used to.

“She needs to go through a journey of self-discovery in order to understand who she really is again,” producer Wandile Molebatsi says.

Khaya is played by 25-year-old actress Thandeka Mdeliswa. She leaves Johannesburg to go to the fictional town called iKani. Molebatsi says the title also makes reference to the isiZulu word inkani, which means “stubborn”.

“Ultimately iKani is really about that level of determination and stubbornness,” he says.

Award-winning actress Florence Masebe plays Bafunani Mahlangu, the matriarch of the Mahlangu family that reigns supreme in the town.

She runs the town with her pillars of support - her son and brother - played by Themba Mahlangu and Sipho Mbele respectively.

“They literally run everything. If you need bread, you’ll buy it from them. If you need milk, you’ll get it from them. If you need transport, you’ll use their taxi or their bus. When you die, you’ll use their mortuary,” Masebe says. “They own everything and everyone.”

Molebatsi says there are preconceptions of the black experience and a simplification of what black people go through, and Coal Stove Pictures is trying to correct that with this show.

“We are 24 years into democracy and yet there is something wrong that we still need to correct about the black image. One of the wrongs that we want to correct is that our culture is beautiful and should be celebrated,” says Molebatsi.

The drama showcases real isi- Ndebele artwork from local artists to add colour and authenticity to the storyline.

“The reason why it was so important for us to have real art is because sometimes we think that art appreciation is something that happens maybe when we’re in our 50s or something where appreciating art happens now,” Molebatsi says.

Masebe says it’s embarrassing that after so many years we’re only celebrating the first isiNdebele drama now.

“We should hang our heads in shame. What have we been doing all these years?”

The series will air on SABC1 from 7.30pm.