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Shaka iLembe: Senzo Radebe says there’s nothing like this production

Life & Style
Nomzamo Mbatha who plays the role of Queen Nandi in Shaka Ilembe

Sounds of joyous ululation were the order of the night as the history of the Zulu nation took centre stage at the premiere of Shaka iLembe at Montecasino, Johannesburg.  

The ambient pride of the Zulu people loomed in the air as special guests along with members of the media filled the venue on Tuesday night dressed in their best interpretation of African couture. 

A-listers such as Dawn Thandeka King, Hope Mbhele, Wanda Zuma, Winne Ntshaba, Sjava, Blxckie, Penny Lebyane, Langa Mavuso, Candice Modiselle, Khabonina Qubeka, Wiseman Mncube and Mduduzi Mabaso graced the black carpet.    

They were also joined by the lead cast, executive producer and actor Nomzamo Mbatha, who plays Queen Nandi, Senzo Radebe, who plays King Senzangakhona, Thembinkosi Mthembu, who portrays King Dingiswayo and Lemogang Tsipa, who reimagined the role of King Shaka Zulu.    

The epic 12-part tale, which was six years in the making, will finally hit the screens this Sunday.

It follows the original story of the legendary African monarch and military strategist, King Shaka. 

The setting of the drama series, which is produced by Bomb Production, sees Mbatha, balancing her executive producer duties with her lifelong dream of playing King Shaka’s beloved mother, Queen Nandi.  

Speaking to Sowetan SMag about her role, Mbatha said: “Nandi is fierce. She’s a disrupter who was way before her time. She was a woman who wanted to challenge the status quo.

“My biggest takeaway from playing this impactful role is how Nandi taught me to use my voice more because I’ve always been a person who gets into my own shell. However, she opened something inside of me and I’ll forever be grateful for this role.” 

The series features the country’s spectacular wildlife and scenery, including the mountains, savanna, and coastline of the abundant beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal, home to the majority of SA’s Zulu people.

“Portraying one of the most prolific icons and kings of all time, Shaka kaSenzangakhona (King Shaka), was an honour. A lot of his legacy speaks for itself to how great he was,” said Tsipa on the black carpet.

“What I took away from my role is understanding the possibility of seeing through your ambitions. Shaka was an ambitious guy who achieved a lot and pushed the narrative of being the greatest king to ever exist.”  

Touching on the role of King Senzangakhona, Radebe expressed how much pride it gave him to embody such a powerful monarch.

“One thing about King Senzangakhona is that he really loved beautiful women. He is such a peculiar ruler. I really loved playing him and all I can say is that there’s nothing like this production. You guys aren’t ready for this.”


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