Biopics telling the stories of legendary South African artists Boom Shaka and Lebo Mathosa are in early development stages of production. Both stories, which are being created for the small screen, intend to be used as an opportunity to ‘open up the industry’ for new talent. The biopics will be casting new faces to portray the lives and careers of the iconic artists.
Boom Shaka was a pioneering group in South Africa’s trademark ‘kwaito’ genre which emerged in 1994, a period that marked the end of apartheid. The group became the voice and identity of the black South African youth during a period when they were disengaging from years of oppression and political protest.
The group’s biopic is being produced as a 13 part series by one of South Africa’s youngest breakthrough TV producers, Legend Manqele of Barleader TV.
Legend Manqele confirmed that the band members themselves, Thembi Seete, Junior Sokhela and Theo Nhlengethwa are an active part of the production process.
“Myself, Theo and Junior we are fully involved and we are in development. We are trying to get this thing done,” said Thembi Seete, who also shared how the biopic will focus on the group’s struggles as opposed to the glamour of their successful careers. “The year was 1994 and we defined an era. Boom Shaka was a symbol of South Africa getting freedom. We were young and fearless,” she shared.
“We had music and that was our voice. We celebrated our leaders, freedom and country through that.”
“This drama is very close to my heart, it’s not just about telling a story or being a producer but it’s also about giving young people an opportunity.”
Similarly, BET Africa is in the early stages of producing a biopic to tell Lebo Mathosa’s story. Although she was a part of Boom Shaka at the start of her career, she went on to have an extremely successful solo career.
Speaking on the story of a woman who was known as the ‘Madonna of the Townships’ before her untimely death at the age of 29, BET Africa’s Vice President Monde Twala said, “The choice of subject for the biopic looked at individuals who created a shift, not only in the music industry but have gone to define an era and a time.”
“Lebo’s story is an amazing one because it is beyond music, touching into her fashion sense, her solo career, her dance talent and how she influenced youth culture.”
“Also at the back of Lebo’s story is a very rich political climate which we want to highlight, and this is a story and journey that can inspire generations to come,” he said.
Casting is already underway for the Lebo Mathosa biopic, as the channel has already held open auditions in search of undiscovered talent who can do justice to her prolific persona on screen.
There is a widespread sentiment that its time to tell the stories of African pop culture personalities, whose impact has been definitive for the identity of the population of the world’s youngest continent. This is also the reason why their stories will be used as an opportunity to open career doors for more young people into the entertainment industry.