Zambezi Magic Films Under Review: Rebranded Mwine Mushi – A Shadow Of Its Former Self

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If you think the rebranded Mwine Mushi is better than the original one, you better keep that to yourself and not bring the discussion of the movie in public. Take my word, no one will treat you kindly.

Mwine Mushi (Village Headman in English) is a comedy set in the village where the headman, (Robam Mwape) rules his subjects with an iron rod (he moves with a wooden one, though). The movie is a chain of skits with but one theme: notorious villagers commit misdemeanors and appear before the headman for judgment. Every skit has a different subject but the format is the same.

In the original one, the author pitted two characters in one crucible: the headman and one notorious subject named Kasaka (Webster Chiluba) who always found himself in the hot seat at the palace, which was also used as the court. For reasons I have yet to find out, the two have gone separate ways leading to changes in the storyline and cast. Frankly speaking, it is Kasaka’s notoriety and the headman’s subsequent outrage that shaped the comedy into what enchanted the viewers.

In the new one, Mwape retains the throne but without Kasaka, the movie is only a shadow of its former self. Care to know why? Come along. Kasaka was a genuine comedian in the movie. When the situation called for dancing he would do so unreservedly. On one memorable occasion, he was bewitched to dance and he danced all the way from where the spell took effect to the court. Although he gave the headman constant headaches, he folded his tail between his legs at the palace; something that the current trouble makers don’t do.

You will recall that the headman is the only one who spoke some English, broken of course, but the current setup is clearly multilingual. If you can identify some languages, you will hear English (proper Zambian English), Kikaonde, Cibemba, and Luvale, forcing the headman to translate some dialogues into Cibemba. I’m in love with these languages, especially Luvale, but they are misplaced in this comedy. In the Kasaka era, they all regarded the headman as the only one who was educated, hence, when he uttered some broken English, everyone froze and believed in him. That added to the humor, which is no longer there.

Another thing, no one debated with the headman. When the Mwine Mushi spoke, every villager clammed up, including stubborn Kasaka. But that’s not the case under the modern-day Mwine Mushi dispensation. You can see anyone talking above the once-upon-a-time authoritarian.

My conclusion, therefore, everything having been said, is that the original one was funnier than the new one. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Many fans I have spoken to and those on the Zambezi Magic Facebook page say what made the movie more hilarious was the combination of the dual. Now they are split but the movie continues in the same setting. The production rights and headman’s mantle remain with Mwape. What, now, is he supposed to do with the brand? Well, his concept is not going down the drain just because Chiluba has left. It has the potential to regain its popularity. If only things like court sessions that are reminiscent of Kasaka can be done away with!

MPALI

Mpali is out of the stall zone and is again moving. Mwiza (Anita Munamonga) gets busted for being in possession of Marijuana which Joyce, the rival of the Nguzu wives, planted in her house but is out of detention because the truth has been uncovered. Here, let me sneak in quick applause to the production crew for dressing the police in the right attire. Well-done! But where were they all that time? So, the innocent Mwiza is free again and puffed up with simmering hatred of her husband, she is now the one dragging Zondani into marriage even before she divorces Nguzu.

That’s an activity fit to attract the viewers’ attention but is nothing compared to Tamara’s uncovered secrete. She is always a step ahead in subterfuge but this time somebody swifter is in the vicinity. Her parents pop up before she can trick her husband about them. She has duped him and her fellow wives into believing that her parents are dead. Now there are here in person.

While the Nguzus are appalled by the unveiled secrete, the parents are agitated by the number of wives their daughter is among and they want her out. But history is on Tamara’s side. She grew up devoid of parental care and she is not ready to accept any of it now that she is on cloud nine. She just coughs and money rain; what can uncaring parents do to lure her back to poverty?

That’s not all. What of Dorcas, whom the entire Nguzu family believes is Tamara’s blood sister? The fear is that Tamara’s parents know no person by that name and just when Shupiwe drags them into revealing their ignorance about Dorcas, Tamara pops up and dilutes the lie with an explanation that changes the topic. She says she and Dorcas are so close that they are virtually sisters.

I’m not surprised by Tamara’s popping up because they are the order of the day in Mpali. Whenever something deceptive is about to happen, somebody will appear from nowhere.

I was so eager to watch the premiere of a new series, Ubuntu, but our power supplier, Zesco, denied me that privilege. I tried to watch the repeats, still to no avail. I just hope I’ll catch episode two and jump on the bandwagon. But from the trailers, I can guess that it is a horror. Huh! I’m scared!

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