I was really thrilled to see that Shaka Zulu, the television series, is going to broadcast soon on the new station Viasat-1. Thrilled because:
- This series made my Sunday evenings special as a kid back in Southern Africa
- I loved the theme song, loved the mighty Shaka portrayed by the late Henry Cele and of course loved the whole mysterious witchdoctor plot (gotta watch it to understand)
The series also featured some high-profile British actors like Edward Fox, Robert Powell (did someone say Jesus of Nazareth ?), Trevor Howard and Christopher Lee. During apartheid, it was probably one of the few series that targeted a wide audience where black characters were portrayed with any sort of power or dignity. It was only years later during my short stint at the University of Cape Town that I learned that there was a lot more to the Shaka Zulu series than met the eye. The storyline did not quite follow factual events but then again, which historical series does?! The series was actually produced for the apartheid-era South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) but this fact was concealed perhaps to get round the sanctions of the time. Apparently, the apartheid government also used the series to promote Zulu dominance over other groups in South Africa by highlighting historical Zulu dominance spearheaded (literally) by King Shaka. All about divide and conquer. Mmmmm....