Umlilo is a South African family drama television series produced by Quizzical Pictures that follows the Simelanes, a moderately affluent Johannesburg family headed by the dynamic patriarch Mnqobi, a self-made man in his 40s who is in a polygamous marriage with two wives and a possible third.
Mnqobi Simelane (Hamilton Dhlamini) is a successful businessman and global player on the brink of landing a lucrative business deal that would make him and his partner happy.
His first wife, Cebisile 40 (played by Gcina Mkhize), is his childhood sweetheart from their rural village in KwaZulu-Natal. They have been married for close to two decades and have two teenage daughters.
Cebisile is a staunch traditionalist who misses her rural surroundings. Although not very happy as a matriarch of the family, she is the glue that keeps the family together.
The second wife, Dumile (played by Nokuthula Ledwaba), is a city girl born and raised in Soweto. She hasn't bore Mnqobi any children yet, although he's yearning for a son.
Dumile, by virtue of her upbringing, is very different from Cebisile, the first wife. She was abused as a child and grew into a funky party animal. She has a very loosely-based modern outlook to the marriage.
Despite their differences, the two women live a relatively amicable life. Soon, the peace and equilibrium of the Simelane's household is in imminent danger when Mnqobi drops a bombshell which shatters the peace of the family: he introduces his possible third wife, Khwezi (Nomzamo Mbatha).
An orphan from KwaZulu-Natal, Khwezi was adopted by her uncle as a teenager. She is very private and nobody knows who she really is or where she comes from. She has become a master at deflecting or avoiding questions about her background. All of her ideas about womanhood have come from television and other media.
The series stars Hamilton Dhlamini as Mnqobi Simelane, Nokuthula Ledwaba as his second wife Dumile Simelane, Gcina Mkhize as his first wife Cebisile Simelane and Nomzamo Mbatha as potential third wife Khwezi Mbatha.
The supporting cast includes Daniel Hadebe, Thato Molamu and Omuhle Gela.
Denny Miller directed the pilot episode. The executive producers are Harriet Gavshon and Mariki van der Walt for Quizzical Pictures and Bobo Mokgoro for e.tv. Bianca Isaac is a producer. Gillian Breslin was the script writer and the theme music was by Lalela.
Played by Omuhle Gela
Mnqobi and Cebisile's eldest daughter, Andile, is a recent matriculant interning at her father's company. She has applied to study a B.Com at Wits. Andile's beliefs are very different from her mother.
Having already had to accept Dumile as her father's second wife, she becomes resentful towards her mom for being submissive and allowing yet another woman to take what is rightfully hers. Mnqobi has never made a secret about the fact that he yearns for a son, which makes Andile insecure about her relationship with her dad.
Played by Thato Molamu
TK, Mnqobi's business associate, is the son of a deceased wealthy township entrepreneur. He went to private schools and has connections to a number of South Africa's political and business elite. Charming and personable, he has a string of casual girlfriends, and he thoroughly enjoys his reputation as a player.
Played by Daniel Hadebe
After witnessing an injustice as a child, Spikiri vowed to be a cop and he became one. For years, he has cut himself off from others, immersing himself in his work. Spikiri finds himself at a crossroads in his career and he is also longing for more in his personal life.
Fiercely loyal, smart, and very good at his job, Spikiri makes for a powerful ally, and a dangerous foe. He will do anything to protect his ideals and will stop at nothing to take down those who he judges to be wrong.