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Finally, a telenovela for the Xitsonga speakers

2019-04-15 10:12

Giyani: Land of Blood
SABC2 (DStv channel 192)
Monday to Wednesday, 9.30pm
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It would be difficult for any Xitsonga-speaking person not to fall in love with Giyani: Land of Blood.

It is the first of its kind on our screens to have a full-on Tsonga cast, and it is set in their own back yard in Giyani, Limpopo.

The first episode of Muvhango, a Tshivenda drama set in Limpopo was aired back in 1997, so it’s about time something new came along to represent the province.

Phathutshedzo Makwarela, the popular award-winning producer and writer, co-created the telenovela.

Makwarela is also the executive producer and co-creator of 1Magic’s hit telenovela The River, and is the head writer of The Queen. This time, he teamed up with writer and producer Gwydion Beynon.

The long-awaited telenovela’s opening scenes did not disappoint, and showcased the colourful and bouncy xibelani dance moves. Xitsonga musician Thomas Chauke’s music set the scene as the community of Risinga gets ready to receive their land back.

In the first few episodes, we find out that there is an ongoing conflict between the Mudau and Baloyi families. Ndivhuwo Mutsila plays the role of business mogul Richard Mudau, and his wife Gladys is played by humanitarian and musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

The drunkard Bra Mike Baloyi is played by seasoned actor Charles Baloyi and his dutiful wife Thulare is played by veteran musician Linah “Ebony” Ngcobo.

Even if you don’t speak Xitsonga, you will find it easy to follow the storyline as it touches on issues that face South Africans today, like corruption and political interference.

The drama has a mix of well-known faces and a few new ones. One of the fresh faces is Mathabo Mothibe, who plays Khensani Mudau, the daughter of Richard Mudau.

A well-known face is Fumani Shilubana, who plays Vukosi Moyo, Richard’s right-hand man and fixer – he takes care of all the dirty work and they end up murdering a whistle-blower.

It will be interesting to see how far the show can go with this storyline.

There were a few technical challenges in the sound department, especially during a rainy romantic scene next to a banana plantation – the breathing sounded a bit out of sync with the action.

Although some might not be bothered by this, there is room for improvement.

There was a bit of criticism from audiences on the way Xitsonga was used by some of the actors in the series, but it’s clear to see why Giyani is getting so much support on social media and has been endorsed by people from Limpopo.

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June 16 2019