Your first look at the ‘Shaka Illembe’ cast

After years in the making, M-Net’s epic drama based on the life and times of Shaka Zulu is zoning in on a release date.

Titled Shaka Ilembe, the drama is expected to air in 2023. 

To mark the occasion MultiChoice and Bomb Productions released some new images showing some of the show’s cast members in costume. 

ALSO READ: You can now watch DStv via stokvel plus all the details on ‘Shaka Illembe’

They also announced that production on the epic drama series, Shaka Ilembe, has commenced and is currently filming in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, providing jobs for over 8,000 people.

The production has been six years in the making, consulting historians, academics and family descendants, including the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. 

“This is our appointment with history; we want to capture the authenticity and deepen the understanding of this era,” explained Nhlanhla Mtaka, an executive and cultural advisor.

Lemogang Tsipa as Shaka Zulu
Lemogang Tsipa as Shaka Zulu in the upcoming Shaka Illembe series | Picture: Supplied

“Set in the 1700s, Shaka Ilembe tells the story of the making of the iconic African king, with iterations from his early childhood through to adulthood.

“The two key actors playing Shaka are the incredibly talented Lemongang Tsipa (adult king) and newcomer Ntando Zondi (boy king),” MultiChoice said in a statement. 

shaka zulu
Newcomer Ntando Zondi as young Shaka in Shaka Illembe | Picture: Supplied

The pair will be joined on the cast by Amazon’s Coming 2 America’s breakout star, Nomzamo Mbatha, who plays Queen Nandi, the revered mother of Shaka, with Thembinkosi Mthembu starring as King Dingiswayo and Wiseman Mncube in the role of King Zwide. 

Mbatha will also executive produce the series.

Nomzamo Mbatha in Shaka Illembe
Nomzamo Mbatha in Shaka Illembe | Picture: Supplied

“I am honoured to bring the giant that is Queen Nandi to life. History will remember those who informed its people of where we come from, to better understand who we are.

“I am fortunate to be part of a project that is much bigger than ourselves and to tell this story in our own language. Impi iyeza!” said Mbatha.

READ MORE: Muzi Mthabela quits ‘Isibaya’ to play Shaka Zulu

“It is a cast with deep talent,” added Angus Gibson, Creative Director at Bomb Productions. 

“It is magical witnessing these performers bring life to characters we only know from the history books. When the cast arrive on set, fully dressed in wardrobe and hair from the period, I am blown away,” Gibson further said.

Thembinkosi Mthembu
Thembinkosi Mthembu in a shot from the upcoming Shaka Illembe series | Picture: Supplied

“Being able to bring this important story to the screen with such stellar talent speaks to the heart of MultiChoice’s ongoing commitment and investment in our local entertainment industry.

“We are committed to telling great African stories and this is a proudly African series told through the lens of Africans for the very first time,” said CEO of General Entertainment and Connected Video at MultiChoice Yolisa Phahle. 

READ MORE: Location scouting begins for ‘Game of Thrones’-style Shaka Zulu TV series

Striking a balance between historical authenticity and drama is crucial to the Shaka Ilembe plot. 

“We want people to learn about our history and culture, but we also want to keep viewers glued in anticipation.

“This drama seeks to uncover nuggets of history, but creates narrative in the gaps putting known characters alongside fictional characters in order to keep the story moving,” Phahle continued.

Senzo Radebe
Senzo Radebe as Senzangakhona in Shaka Illembe | Picture: Supplied

Compiled by Kaunda Selisho

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