Isithembiso is a South African telenovela created and produced by Bomb as a modern-day reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, with characters such as Simi (Red Riding Hood), Banzi (the Big Bad Wolf) and Zamani (the Woodcutter), who becomes the rescuer to the damsel in distress.
The series follows the lives of two young people who come to the City of Gold in search of not just their fortune but familial ties, opportunity and education. It's a millennial migrant story that digs deep into the lives of Mzansi youth today, their ambitions, choices and the consequences.
We meet Simi, the wide-eyed innocent maiden from KwaZulu-Natal. She comes to the dazzling iGoli in search of her mother and job opportunities where her path collides with the resourceful Zamani, whose street smarts and swag belie that he comes from a small village in Limpopo.
Through a series of incidents – from chance meetings to destructive choices – their lives intertwine with Banzi, whose "sheep's clothing" easily deceive the gullible Simi. Whether it's fate or bad luck, this culminates in an explosive climax that has long-lasting and life-changing consequences.
There are promises made and broken - promises of a better life, a brighter future, greater life choices... Ultimately, the idealistic filter through which the young look at life is ripped off to reveal that "all that glitters is not always gold".
Will the sheer determination and tenacity of borne out of youth and hope triumph over obstacles and the hard knocks of life?
Industry newcomers Nandi Mbatha (Simi) and Zamani Mbatha (Zamani) are the two young actors central to this telenovela, joining veterans Hamilton Dlamini (Banzi) and Meshack Mavuso (Kero Kunene), among others.
Nandi Mbatha as Simi
Newcomer Nandi Mbatha portrays tragic rural heroine Simlindile "Simi" Ngema, the teenage damsel in distress with an impetuous streak. Simi's move to Joburg goes pear-shaped from day one, and her fairytale looks set to NOT have a happy ending.
Zamani Mbatha as Zamani
Newcomer Zamani Mbatha plays his namesake Zamani, a young, good-hearted hero with a hunger and desire to be someone of value, who can often be reckless. He is a first-year Mining Engineering student and his heart and good-guy tendencies get him in sticky situations.
Hamilton Dlamini as Banzi
Hamilton Dlamini stars as the manipulative and ruthless Banzi "The Wolf of Braamfontein" Kunene, whose pursuit for power and respect knows no bounds - although his fragile male ego could be his undoing.
Meshack Mavuso as Kero
Meshack Mavuso plays the even-tempered Kero "The Lion of Pimville" Kunene. The polar opposite of his cutthroat brother Banzi, he is a humble father figure to most of the township youth.
Chichi Letswalo as Claudia
Chichi Letswalo plays Claudia Kunene, the wife of Banzi - a bird in a gilded cage who yearns to be free. She regrets leaving the unassuming Kero for the flashier Banzi, and wants her daughter to learn independence instead of relying on a man.
Tshenolo Seabi as Palesa
Tshenolo Seabi plays daddy's little princess, Palesa Kunene. She is spoilt, a bit arrogant and desperate to never disappoint her doting dad.
Lemogang Tsipa as Bambatha
Bambatha is young, arrogant and opinionated. He is what has come to be termed a "Clever Black".
Moneoa Moshesh as Jabulile
Moneoa Moshesh is the fast-talking, street-hustling Jabulile. Temperamental and easily distracted, she is a graduate of the "university of life".
Sboniso Nxumalo as Oscar
Oscar is Zamani's maternal uncle and security guard at Santa Barbara. All he wants is to save enough money to buy a taxi and quit the security job.
Bongani Maseko as Khaludja
Club bouncer Khaludja is a gentle giant with an expressionless face who just wants to provide for his family.
Farieda Metsileng as Kandy
Varsity student Kandy is good-hearted girl, demure and conservative. She is everyone's best friend.
Isithembiso was created by Bomb, with story by Angus Gibson, Kutlwano Ditsele, Phatu Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon. The executive producers for Bomb are Teboho Mahlatsi, Desireé Markgraaff and Angus Gibson.
Gibson and Ditsele are producers and directors include John Barker and Emile Smith. The head writer is David Gordon, with storyliners Charleen Ntsane, Daniel Zimbler, Justine Loots and Sayitsheni Mdakhi. The score was written by Philip Miller (with additional music by Mpilo Shabangu) and the title sequence track was written by ATM, Jabulani Sihle Makhubo and Mfanafuthi Ruff Nkosi.