Two young lovers, torn apart by a century old feud between two powerful families. From a valley long divided by too little resources the bitter feud continues in Egoli, the city of gold, as the Zungus seek to build their fortune.
The promise of riches and old cycles of revenge tears them apart but one man's quest for reconciliation and peace leads them all to understand that they can prosper together.
On the East side of the Valley lives the Zungus, a household headed by charismatic and influential Mpiyakhe and his sister Mkabayi, who run a successful taxi business.
Mkabayi runs the rural taxi yard; she is a fierce and powerful matriarch who has sworn herself to celibacy after the assassination of her betrothed when she was a young girl.
She is loyal, traditional and under the tough exterior warm-hearted. Mpiyakhe's two rural wives run the Bhubusini compound.
Mpiyakhe lives in Soweto with his fourth wife, Iris, a beautiful but scheming and manipulative woman. She has no children but is the stepmother to Mpiyakhe's two children – Thandeka and Jabu - from his first wife, who died in a taxi clash 14 years back. Mpiyakhe runs the taxi business and is chairman of the East Side taxi association.
On the West side lives Samson Ndlovu's family, they too operate a big taxi business, but are less successful than Mpiyakhe. Samson is a bitter man, but hides under a veneer of tradition; his brother Mandla is bloodthirsty and wants vengeance on the Zungus.
Can their love survive the bitter feuds that surround them? Will their families tear them apart or will their love triumph in the end?
The isiBaya cast is an eclectic mix of both celebrated, seasoned actors in television and theatre and fresh new faces. Siyabonga Twala heads up the Zungu household as Mpiyakhe, with his leading lady and third wife, Iris Zungu, played by Mampho Brescia.
Also lined up are actors hailing from KZN: Class Act winner Sdumo Mtshali (S'bu Ndlovu), Nomzamo Mbatha (Thandeka Zungu), Pallance Dladla (Jabu Zungu), Zakhele Mapondo (Skhaleni) and Mdu Gumede (Ntandane).
Bheki Mkhwane plays the role of Samson, the head of the Ndlovus, who is aligned with his hot-headed brother, Mandla, played by Bongani Gumede.
THE ZUNGU CLAN
Taxi owners and operators from the East side of the valley.
Mpiyakhe Zungu (46)
Played by Siyabonga Twala
High profile taxi boss. Savvy political player and leader. He has a "road to Damascus" moment when his daughter is nearly killed in a taxi shootout. He realizes violence is not a viable alternative and envisions a new peace.
As a young man Mpiyakhe was a consummate stick fighter and very popular with women.
Mkabayi Zungu (50)
Played by Thembi Nyandeni
Mpiyakhe's sister. Pugnacious, abrasive, tough talking matriarch of the family in KwaZulu-Natal. Is forced into a more high-profile public and political involvement with the taxi business.
Still mourns a lost love and struggles to show her softer side. She learns to lead and find time to listen to the people around her.
Iris Zungu (35)
Played by Mampho Brescia
Mercantile, calculating and manipulative 'city wife' of Mpiyakhe. Married for money, power and position. She is willing to do almost anything to retain and grow those things. Morally questionable and deeply flawed.
Thandeka Zungu (21)
Played by Nomzamo Mbatha
Mpiyakhe's daughter. Well educated, modern city girl. She has been protected by her fathers position and money and is an innocent. She must face an unrequited love and fight for what she believes in.
She is filled with a passion for science and discovering the universe, but knows nothing about those living in it.
Jabulani "Jabu" Zungu (18)
Played by Pallance Dladla
Mpiyakhe's son and Zodwa's brother. Dissolute, angry young-man, wastrel with a chip on his shoulder and wanna be musician. He is popular with girls, his charm and good looks get him out of trouble.
Siphokasi Zungu (45)
Played by Celeste Ntuli
The oldest of Mpiyakhe's wives, is a respected childless matriarch with an irreverent, slightly wicked, sense of humour and a secret smoking habit.
Her astute but inexperienced business skills are put to the test when 'the wives' get a catering contract on the road construction project.
THE NDLOVU CLAN
Taxi owners and operators from the West side of the valley.
Samson Ndlovu (43)
Played by Bheki Mkhwane
Strong, fierce and calculating taxi owner from the West valley and principle voice in that taxi association.
His smooth and seemingly reconciliatory manner, hides a man who is at the very top of a dangerous and corrupt business and there is nothing he will not do to stay there.
But he is also a proud father. He believes in principles and family honour. He is a complex villain.
Mandlenkosi "Mandla" Ndlovu (37)
Played by Bongani Gumede
Brutal, jealous and corrupt younger brother of Samson. He lives and dies by the sword and believes that his brother is wrong to imagine that the peace negotiations will change anything.
Sibusiso "S'bu" Ndlovu (23)
Played by Sdumo Mtshali
Samson's youngest son, is as determined and stubborn as his father. A natural leader, with integrity. S'bu is charming, articulate and smart.
Being groomed to take over the taxi business from his dad, he is willing to make whatever sacrifice is needed. But when he falls in love with Thandeka his world is turned upside down.
Played by Tumisho Masha
A charming, smart and smooth talking businessman. Snake in the grass, willing to do anything for personal profit.
Played by Samson Khumalo
Father of Lerato. Insightful, world-weary, speaker of truth. A warrior who has lost the will to fight. Yard manager at the Zungu's and close friend and confidante to Mpiyakhe, he too has a vision for peace and reconciliation in the Valley. Undeniably attracted to Mkabayi.
Played by Florence Mokgatsi
Shadrack's daughter. 16-year-old, street smart and sassy. Dreams of a better life, glamour and love. Gives everyone a run for their money including her father who has sacrificed everything for her education. Fearless but wanting more from life.
Miriam Ramatlhodi (30)
Played by Matshepo Maleme
Everyone calls her 'Mimi'. A young, high flying, fearless female detective with a troubled past, troublesome relationships and something to prove.
Inspired by the memory of her dead father, a cop who was murdered when she was still a young girl, she is determined to uncover the mystery of the killings in the Valley.
Played by Mdu Gumede
A driver with big dreams. Wants to own his own taxi, be his own boss and make a life for himself with the girl he loves. But he has to pay lobola and so takes on other jobs to try to earn more money.
Tobias 'Skhaleni' (32)
Played by Zakhele Mapondo
Skhaleni is every inch the abrasive taxi driver. Disrespectful of any authority except that of his immediate employer.
Homophobic and sexist he is abusive in his treatment of passengers and other road users, arrogant and unthinking in his day to day dealings with his fellow drivers and the people around him. But he has a wicked sense of humour and fun.
Played by Mbali Mbebe
Maid working for the Zungu clan. She is the love of Ntandane's life. She watches everything, sees everything and knows everyone's business.
Betrothed to marry a wealthy man who will help her poor struggling family, Ntandane must come up with a plan to find the lobola before it is too late.
About the Series
The context for the love stories of isiBaya is the struggle for wealth and power between the Zungus and the Ndlovus, two Zulu families living in Bhubesini in the Thukela Valley. This struggle is reflected in the title – isiBaya.
Esibayeni is where the wealth, power and pride of a Zulu man is located. It is a kraal, the home of imfuyo - the herd of cattle and goats – providing manure, guaranteeing rich crops.
The presence of isiBaya indicates indoda yamadoda, a man amongst men, because such a man has wealth in abundance.
The wealth of the Zungus and the Ndlovus has in the past been in cattle but now it is in taxis – and the contemporary taxi industry colloquially refers to fleets of taxis as esibayeni.
The word is now a symbol for new wealth and power.
Directors on the series include Teboho Mahlatsi, Adze Ugah and Denny Miller with a musical score by Philip Miller. The story is by Harriet Perlman, Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom and Catherine Stewart with contributors Jacob Ntshangase, Paul S. Rowlston and Benedict Mabele Carton. The script is by Catherine Miller.
isiBaya is produced by Desireé Maarkgraaf and Angus Gibson of The Bomb Shelter.
isiBaya began as a telenovela, broadcasting four days a week (Mondays to Thursdays) for its first year. The intention was to end the show after one season, but the popularity of the show prompted the commissioning editors to convert it into a full-blown soap opera after its initial one-year, 208-episode run.
Shortly before the end of the first season it was announced that there would be a second and that the show would become a soap opera, broadcasting five days a week (weekdays).
Several new characters and storylines were introduced for Season 2, with additions to the starring cast including Vusi Kunene, Andile Gumbi, Jeffrey Sekele, Zinhle Mabena and Sibusisiwe Jili.
The first season was the big winner at the inaugural Royalty Soapie Awards, held in March 2014, winning 10 of the categories:
Outstanding Lead Actor (Siyabonga Twala)
Outstanding Lead Actress (Thembi Nyandeni)
Outstanding Writing Team
Outstanding Make-up & Hair
Outstanding Directing Team
Outstanding Art Direction
Outstanding Editing Team
Outstanding Casting Director (Kutlwano Ditsele & Angus Gibson)
Season 1 Cast
(scroll to bottom for available actor bios)
Siyabonga Thwala ... Mpiyakhe Zungu
Thembi Nyandeni ... Mkabayi Zungu
Mampho Brescia ... Iris Zungu
Nomzamo Mbatha ... Thandeka Zungu
Sdumo Mtshali ... Sibusiso Ndlovu
Bheki Mkhwane ... Samson Ndlovu
Bongani Gumede ... Mandla Ndlovu
Pallance Dladla ... Jabulani Zungu
Samson Khumalo ... Shadrack
Tumisho Masha ... Jackson
Recurring / Guests
Mdu Gumede ... Ntandane
Zakhele Mabasa ... Tobias 'Skhaleni'
Mbali Maphumulo ... Buhle
Florence Mokgatsi ... Lerato (later as Florence Matlakala)
Lorraine Mphephi ... Pam
Andile Mxakaza ... Fezile
Ayanda Ngubane ... Phumele Zungu (also credited as Ayanda Borotho)
Celeste Ntuli ... Siphokazi Zungu
Nomsa Buthelezi ... Ma Mnisi
Matshepo Maleme ... Miriam Ramatlhodi (also credited as Matshepo Malema)
Coco Merckel ... Detective Booysen
Gcina Mkhize ... Khanyi
Bridget Masinga ... Lawyer (as Bridget Masinga Khati)
Mfana Hlophe ... Mr Xaba
Bonginkosi Shibe ... Somizi
Macks Papo ... Sechaba (as Maks Papo)
Bonga Dlamini ... Saboteur
Bongani Nxumalo ... Herdsman
Darren Kelfkens ... Glen (as Darren Kelfens)
Michelle Bradshaw ... Hayleigh
Lehlohonolo Makoko ... Lawyer
Joe Mafela ... Prophet Khambule
Gugu Masondo ... Imelda
Siphiwe Nkosi ... Mkhulu'Ngubane
Tamara Jozi ... Mazondi
Matthew Monika ... Luthuli
Palesa Mocuminyane ... Dr Shongwe (as Palesa Madisakwane)
Yonda Thomas ... Tony
Mothusi Chebeletsane ... Bheki
Jen Su ... Mai Sheng
Nandi Nyembe ... Gog' Mkithi
Kamogelo Mampe ... Nurse Ditsele
Busiswa Mambi ... Nurse Mhlongo
Lerato Marabe ... Nelisa (as Lerato Marobe)
Allen Booi ... Mofokeng
Nunu Khumalo ... Cindy
Kamogelo Bareki ... Street Vendor (as Bradley Bareki)
Ncibijana Madlala ... Wiseman
Jessica Nkosi ... Qondi
Senzo Vilakazi ... Mehl'emamba
Siyabonga Mchunu ... Young Boy
Buyisani Mchunu ... Young Mpiyakhe
Phumzile Dumakude ... Young Mkabayi
Bongani Dlamini ... West Valley Taxi Driver
Phemelo Phiri ... Petrol Attendant
Nhlanhla Mdlalose ... Bongani
Zolani Phakade ... Prince
Mashwabana Maseko ... Mate 1
Mashabane Maseko ... WTA Member 2
Sello Motloheloa ... Mate 2/West Taxi Owner/WTA Member (as Sello Motlohelao)
Muzi Mthabela ... Duma (also credited as Muzi KaChibi Mthabela)
Simphiwe Shabalala ... Thulani (also credited as Simphiwe Tshabalala)
Thembi Shange ... Ma Ntuli
Erno van Dyk ... Franklin
Walter Mthethwa ... ETA Member
Sipho Manzini ... ETA Member
Popoke Ndlovu ... Taxi Driver 1
Macebo Twalo ... Taxi Driver 2 (also credited as Solomon Thwala and Solly Thwalo)
Dumisani Nkomonde ... Praise Singer
Austin Moyo ... WTA Member
Zakhele Msibi ... Sangoma Sunday/Nkabinde
Herald Khumalo ... Policeman
Nhlanhla Dlamini ... Guard 1
Tumelo Tsotetsi ... Guard 2 (also credited as Tumelo Dlamini)
Thulasizwe Kubheka ... Mdu (also credited as Thulani Kubheka)
Njabulo ka Sishaba ... MEC Clive Mazibuka
Thomas Sithole ... Sheriff
Nkosana Mahlangu ... Locksmith
Skumbi Ndaba ... Bank Man
Lerato Machedi ... Nokwazi
Mfumu Mhinga ... Zoom Zoom
Tholoana Makhetha ... Buppie
Luzine O'Connor ... Groupie 1
Pearl Ledusho ... Groupie 2
Duduza Mware ... Victor
Boitumelo Machedi ... Thokozani
Kanetsi Mollo ... Melusi (also credited as Kanetse Mollo)
Bongani Mbelu ... Jonas
Sandile Mfusi ... Joe Jo
Mkhonzeni Mazibuko ... Sandile
Legend Khula ... Moki
Riky Rick Makhado ... Mandelic
Mercy Pakela ... Mercy
Sibusiso Linda ... Radio Interviewer
Musa Sefatsa ... Aubrey (also credited as Muso Sefatsa)
Mzwandile Khuzwayo ... Qaphelani
Sibusiso Madondo ... Mgudluzi
Eric Ngubane ... S'goloza
Madoda Ntuli ... Qhude
Vumani Mntambo ... Sticks
Themba Tshabalala ... Menzi
Lindela Ngomezulu ... Zungu Guard
Deli Malinga ... Buhle's Mother (as Delly Malinga)
Themba Mgobozi ... Buhle's Uncle
Vusi Mdimiso ... Herd Boy
Phakamani Zikalala ... Sergeant Chonco
Errol Ballantine ... Professor Carr (as Errol Ballentine)
Kwande Makhene ... Young Mimi
Dennis Madiba ... Surgeon
Melusi Mbele ... Bhekumuzi
Mmathapelo Buthelezi ... Nurse (as Mmathaphelo Buthelezi)
Devan Moonsamy ... Doctor
Goitsemang Kau ... Young Mpiyakhe
Kiname Kutumela ... Young Mkabayi
Kenneth Fok ... Mr Lam
Fikile Dludlu ... Maid
Tumi Link ... Baby
Marcia Mzindle ... Sheila
Katlego Setlhare ... Pearl (later Customer, as Katlego Sethare)
Luyanda Mafanya ... Patty
Charmaine Dludlu ... Portia
Emmanuel Lekalala ... Rayno
Ryan Yamba ... Dr Chirwa
Sizwe Zuma ... Imposter
Godfrey Ngubo ... Hijacker 1
Mduduzi Mazibuko ... Hijacker 1
Kabelo Moalusi ... Hijacker 1
Phillip Hlophe ... Kunene (as Phillip Hlope, also credited as Philip Hlope)
Emmanuel Nkosi ... Mabuyakhulu
Kennedy Stab ... Simelane
Lucky Ngubane ... WTA Member
Vusi Ndlovu ... WTA Member
Oupa Malatji ... Hospital Visitor
Themba Mongwe ... Uniformed Policeman
Lebogang Machedi ... Friendly Man
Joel Ngwenya ... Sandile Man 1
Justice Pitjeng ... Sandile Man 2
Mpume Zondi ... Ma Zondi Granddaughter
Masego Pietersen ... Thandeka Lookalike
Gift Leotlela ... Teboho
Solly Moloto ... Ace
Wanda Ndlovu ... Newspaper Vendor
Nthabiseng Shabiso ... Helpful Woman
Mlamli Maloyi ... Customer
Thulani Hlatshwayo ... Teenage Boy 1
Itumeleng Morobela ... Teenage Boy 1
Thandi Makhubele ... School Principal (also credited as Thandi Makhubelo)
Percy Maboane ... School Chairman
Ben Horowitz ... Jackson's Lawyer
Irene Quirk ... Photographer
Spencer Ndlovu ... Door Guard
Bobby Ramokadi ... MEC Bodyguard
Phete George Hoti ... Mimi's Father
Tebogo Mmtli ... Young Sechaba
Kwande Makhene ... Young Mimi
Bongani Mthembu ... Jail Guard
Duduza Mwale ... Shadow Victor
Hasting Muravha ... Lerato's Doctor