When the first guitar chords of the mbaqanga ballad Wangala strummed during the opening sequence of Mzansi Magic’s new telenovela turned soapie, Isibaya, South African television was transformed forever.
Five years later, the lovelorn melody, Wangala has become synonymous with one of the best television soapie to ever come out of the country.
This year, Isibaya celebrates 1000 episodes and countless moments of action, family feuds, rivalry, love, murder and magic.
A novel concept set against a backdrop that swings from breathtaking vistas of rolling green hills to noisy congested taxi ranks, Isibaya dared to tread where few local television shows had gone before. It’s had South Africa buzzing as it tackles subjects such as polygamy, laying bare the intricacies of the notoriously private taxi industry, addressing decades-old family feuds and confronting the taboo topic of black magic.
When the series’ loved hero Mpiyakhe was “killed” in a car crash and turned into umkhovu by his enemy, the entire country lit up social media as each episode held viewers spellbound and simultaneously chattering none stop. Isibaya had dared to address the sacred subject of black magic and the walking dead.
Central to all the turmoil was the love story of Sibusiso and Thandeka, star-crossed lovers whose epic journey of love could rival Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The young couple defied a generational family feud and the risk of being disowned just so they could fulfil their destiny – to be together as soulmates.
The show’s popularity saw it turned into a daily soap opera that straddled tradition and modern life in a Rainbow Nation of the 21st century. New families were introduced, more rivals came on board, plots and twists gave viewers whiplash and locations swung from untouched rural beauty to the mod-cons of urban life.
As Isibaya celebrates 1,000 episodes of groundbreaking television, it continues to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with suspense and thrill-a-minute storylines!