There’s a ton of plot packed into this 12 part series of Shaka iLembe , but the deluge of detail gets steadily more absorbing


We grew up being told who Shaka was and what he did to his enemies in his Kingdom. As far as my childhood goes, I have known Shaka to be a ruthless Zulu King who reigned supreme and details of his story either exaggerated or omitted important events. Now with Shaka iLembe, we get to understand and unpack our history that blends elements of drama, complex family relationships, passionate love, war and everything in between. Buckle up because we’re in for a wild ride.


Shaka iLembe which debuted on the June 18 on DStv Mzansi Magic amassed over 3.6 million audience setting a new record as the best-performing drama series. The star studded show is undoubtedly reaching for a global footprint! Previdar caught up with three of the cast members of Shaka Ilembe including Lemohang Tsipa, Ziya Xulu and Senzo Radebe.



Six years in the making, the star studded show tells a story of a historical figure Shaka Zulu ka Senzangakhona and the women and men who shaped his life. Since the release of its first episode of Shaka iLembe, many fans in South Africa and beyond have been wondering who Ziya Xulu is and has since then been a favourite. Ziya Xulu who plays the role of Pilkile, Queen Nandi’s (portrayed by Nomzamo Mbatha) best friend spoke to us about her on screen and off screen friendship between her and Nomzamo Mbatha. “We’ve grown very close and fond of each other. In the story, we’re two girls who are witty, head strong and courageous. As much as Piklile is bubbly and speaks her mind, she draws her courage from Nandi.” Ziya Xulu says.



I’ve just arrived is what Ziya Xulu says when asked about receiving an overwhelming applause from the audience. She also notes that Shaka Ilembe tells an incredible story that will live on for generations and she’s thankful that she got to be part of history in the making. “I’m all about representation. I want to tell stories that represents people like me out there. Black, chubby, nude and beautiful. The character Piklile gave me that opportunity to portray that at best and mostly, I learnt that I’m actually braver than I thought. It’s an affirming role, a manifestation coming true,” she added. There’s no denying that Ziya Xulu is going to be a powerhouse name in the entertainment industry and we’re here for it.


Set in the 1700s and filmed in isiZulu, Senzangakhona played a prominent role in shaping Shaka’s story. The multi talented actor Senzo Radebe who plays Senzangakhona says that as much as Shaka Ilembe is a historical drama, it’s also a breath of fresh air for the South African film scene. With years of experience under his belt, Senzo spoke fondly of his cast members and his own lessons that he learnt throughout the filming. “Its all the little stories that weren’t told before that made King Shaka the way he was and now we get to tell them the best way we know how. Shooting Shaka Ilembe taught me the richness of our history and working with such an astonishing cast and crew was a cherry on top,” Senzo mentioned.



The story would be incomplete without Shaka himself. Played by Lemohang Tsipa who says the story carries so much weight and importance that has been passed down from generation to generation. Lemohang noted that it’s always been a dream of his to play such an impactful character and Shaka Ilembe gave him the platform. We’ve only seen two episodes of Shaka iLembe, Lemohang touches on what people can expect from his character. “What people can expect from my character is a man full of ambition, leadership, action, an overall story told in the way it should be. When Shaka started out in his Kingdom, there were only 700 people and they grew to be a prominent kingdom which he built in a number of years.  It’s a story not only important to Nguni people but rather Africans as a whole,” he said.


Hats off to the director known to bring best storytelling to our screens Angus Gibson and the executive producer and lead actor Nomzamo Mbatha who have been receiving endless praises. On the premiere day, Angus Gibson spoke candidly about how the cast was so dedicated and passionate in making this story a world class despite cold weathers and difficulties they faced. One of the executive producers Desiree Markgraaff also added that “we wanted to approach it from a spiritual perspective. We understood that we needed to pay respects to ancestors which is why we had a great relationship and seeked wisdom from King Misizulu kaZwelithini and other historians.”



The cast members also include the talented Dawn Thandeka King, Wiseman Ncube, Ayanda Boroto, Thembinkosi Mthembu, Hope Mbele, Ntando Zondi, Khabonina Kubeka, Sthandiwe Kgorokge, Abdul Khoza and many more. If we were to sum up with one word what Shaka iLembe presents, that would be ICONIC. Catch Shaka iLembe on DStv Mzansi Magic on Sundays at 20:00. Follow the conversation online: #ShakaIlembeMz



  • Posted 5 July 2023 10:56 am
    by Eugene

    Your work is something else. Keep it up bro.🤙🏽

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