Zambezi Magic Films Under Review: Zuba – Fiction or Nonfiction?

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Zuba, the much-missed telenovela, is back on Multichoice channel 162. This time we are being shone season three. It starts with the death of an inmate whom the police identify as Yemba, a member of the Sosala family. This is not the first time Yemba is ‘dying.’ In season two he faked his death and reappeared under a fabricated identity. Later it was discovered that he was Yemba.

He is the nephew of Phingiwe Sosala, a rich fashion designer who owns a company that makes up-market clothes. From what I’ve gathered, Phingiwe is the one who brought Yemba up. So, he is like a son to her; this is common in Zambia.

The message of Yemba’s death momentarily draws superficial tears out of the eyes of Phingiwe and Natasha, Yemba’s cousin. They are convinced the man is dead but they postpone the mourning and go back to their normal business. I don’t know about you but I don’t accept that Zambians, no matter the class, can postpone mourning. They can defer the funeral (which in Zambia is known as ‘burial’) to a later date but certainly not emotions.

I’m not the only one who is perturbed by that. I was looking at comments about the movie on the Zambezi Magic Facebook page and, by pure coincidence, one Benjamin Vipando Simukwai watches Zuba through my eyes. He says, “Yemba is dead, no funeral is held like we do in our Zambian culture. Why are the writers portraying other unZambian cultures? Even rich Zambian families hold funerals. This season is proving to be a miss.”

In fiction, fantasies and unexplained events are possible but in nonfiction, we expect things that we can identify with. Zuba looks more real than fiction.

After reading Mr. Simukwai’s comment, I went further and checked his profile. I deduced that he watches TV, not from his neighbor, but he pays and watches from his house. If he pays, then he has the right to complain when he is shown something that falls short of the value for his money.

I also looked at more comments written by other viewers on the Zuba page. You won’t believe this! All comments, and I mean all, were negative. Some said the movie is confusing; not clear about the flow and not starting where season two ended. They believe Suwi is dead and, like in the case of Yemba, they want to see it in action and not just in the dialogues. Think of this: two notable deaths within the same time frame and no mourning of either of them! One commenter said maybe the two actors have abandoned the production living the writers with no option but to ‘kill’ them without showing their bodies. I’m not sure about that but let’s just wait and see.

Zuba was written by Ivan Mweene, the man who claims to have created the 1999 Zambia’s first soap opera, Kabanana. He is ‘driven by the need to become better than he is today,’ so, I’m sure he’ll listen to the views of the people about his script and make improvements in upcoming seasons if at all they will be there.

In addition, the credits at the end of the movie include Charles Chitundu as head writer, Ellen Banda-Aaku as script editor, Theresa Mbesuma as script coordinator, and Shadreck Chizza Banda as script supervisor. I’ve never met any of these in person but it beats my understanding of how obvious inconsistencies can sip through five nationally recognized scripters.

Hold your fire; we are not giving up on them! After all, some of them are only upstarts fresh from the buds. Good news is that they are working in tandem with Owas Ray Mwape as director, so, we expect better days! With the experience that Mwape has amassed since his coronation as best director in the 1998 Dynamo Schools Drama Festival sponsored by Colgate Palmolive (Z) Incorporated, we expect professionalism. Don’t get me wrong. In 1998, he had already completed school and just directed a play performed by Kansenshi Secondary School in Ndola. I have seen him direct and write many scripts since. But with the trashing of Zuba on social media, Mwape may end up a victim of circumstance.

I’ll wind up today’s review by praise. Although Zuba is under fire due to unrealistic scripting, it has a magnificent picture quality.

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