Kulani Nkuna
2 minute read
12 Aug 2013
5:00 am

New TV drama explores race and relationships

Kulani Nkuna

The realm of artistic possibility in South Africa is ever broader. Filmmakers are becoming more adventurous, which is a great sign.

The problem is that, in a scenario where imaginations can flourish, some ideas for television stories and films can be dour and a great premise might be undone by bad scripts and equally abysmal acting and direction.

The premise for e.tv’s Ngamla is interesting, but things become worrying when recognisable names behind the scenes are nowhere to be found. Such a -tory must be accompanied by a great production team or else a great idea, which can explore a lot of South African issues meaningfully, could be wasted.

Ngamla‘s storyline goes something like this: A single mother unwittingly rents out one of her backyard rooms in the township to a white tenant, which turns out to be a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse because the presence of a white tenant pits her against her former husband, and a blessing because the tenant turns out to be chef whom she needs to win a government catering tender.

It is interesting to note that words like “tender” did not really exist in our collective national lexicon a decade ago, but are now emblematic of aspiration and pivotal in the changing of dire personal circumstances. The storyline here is not the greatest, but it does shed light on inter-racial relations in the townships.

Actress Carol Behane, right, understands her character’s role as a figure exploring the boundaries set up by our society.

“My character is tasked with answering and looking at the appropriateness of a white person living in back room in a township,” she says.

“The central message here is to see people as they are and not necessarily their skin colour. In real life we have white people living in the township and some are welcomed in other parts while others are unwelcome because people feel that they are encroaching on their space. It’s an interesting dynamic.”