Uzalo is a South African telenovela-turned-soapie created and executive produced by Duma Ndlovu which centres round two families - the Xulus and the Mdletshes - who are unknowingly bound to each other by their sons, who were swapped at birth.
These two young men carry the hopes and legacies of these families as they face the complexities of money, family and love.
In a country with a history as complex and multifaceted as South Africa's, what are the ties that bind? Is it blood-ties that make up the family unit, or the bonds forged with perfect strangers who often become dearer to us?
Exploring themes of identity, inheritance and beliefs, a shocking secret revealed on a deathbed kicks off this fast-paced telenovela.
Each half-hour episode delves into the lives of the Mdletshe and the Xulu families who are immersed in contradictory worlds of church and crime respectively.
The drama also throws the issues of family ties and loyalties against personal ambition into sharp relief – from loving patriarchs who exert unwelcome influence on their ambitious, young sons, to the tension created amongst family members when one of them decides to pursue their own career goals and reject the family business.
Uzalo delves into what makes these ambitious and successful, yet troubled families tick.
The Mdletshes are a God-fearing family with its patriarch pastor Melusi Mdletshe (Bheki Mkhwane) presiding over the charismatic Kingdom of Canaan Church and its promising gospel choir.
The church gives a strong moral standard that is in direct conflict with the Xulu family, ruled by Muzi Xulu (Mpumelelo Bhulose), which is invested in a life of crime.
Adding to the conflict, each set of parents have a firm set of ideas of where their intelligent and driven sons' careers should be going – much to the youngsters' chagrin.
The inter-family unease co-exists against tensions between the two families, who each represent opposite sides of the moral coin in their community.
Linked by an untold secret the families battle for the soul of KwaMashu Township in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, which provides the backdrop for drama, deceit and discontent to unravel.
An awkward love-triangle and lifelong friendship between the sons of the two families provides an additional dimension of rivalry to the drama.
Written by playwright-producer Duma Ndlovu, Uzalo is produced by Gugulethu Ncube and Pepsi Pokane. The series features an ensemble cast which includes Leleti Khumalo, who plays the pastor's wife Zandile Mdletshe; as well as the KwaMashu-born actor Bheki Mkhwane in the role of pastor Melusi Mdletshe.
Newcomers Khumbulani 'Kay' Sibiya plays Ayanda Mdletshe - the charming and ambitious pastor's son - and Naymaps Maphala plays Mxolisi Xulu, the apple that has fallen far from the tree, rejecting the seedy world of crime that is his family's lifeblood.
The series was shot on location in KwaMashu's F-section with an emphasis on using local talent and the province's infrastructure to create a true-to-life depiction of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa.
Created by and Executive Producer: Duma Ndlovu
Executive Producer: Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube
Executive Producer: Pepsi Pokane
Series Producer: Mmamitse Thibedi
Head Writer: Phathutshedzo Aldrean Makwarela
Storyliners: Yolanda Mogatusi, Lehasa Moloi, Zolisa Singwanda
Head Director: Alex Yazbek
Directors: King Shaft Morapama, Bruce Molema
Season 1 Cast
(scroll to bottom for actor bios)
Leleti Khumalo ... Zandile Mdletshe
Mpumelelo Bhulose ... Muzi Xulu
Bheki Mkhwane ... Melusi Mdletshe
Dawn Thandeka King ... Lindiwe Xulu
Naymaps Maphalala ... Mxolisi Xulu
Kay Sibiya ... Ayanda Mdletshe
Recurring / Guests
Ncibijana Madlala ... Siyabonga Mabuza
Jo-anne Reyneke ... Sindisiwe Dube (as Joanne Reyneke)
Nqobile Sipamla ... Diana Dlamini
Don Mlangeni Nawa ... Dlomo
Bonga Dlamini ... Mkhonto Xulu
Abdul Khoza ... Doctor 1
Londiwe Mthembu ... Choir / Maphindi
Ntokozo Dlamini ... Mastermind Maphumulo
Sihle Ndaba ... Smangele Maphumulo
Nompilo Maphumulo ... Nosipho Xulu
Sipho Mhlongo ... Nkosinathi Mdletshe
Lungelo Madondo ... Amandla Maphumulo
Khanyisile Ngutshane ... Nkule Dlamini
Maria Selepe ... Mangena
Gugu Gumede ... Hlengiwe
Nokuthula Mabika ... Thobile
Phumzile Putting ... Ntokozo
Bonga Zulu ... Panel Beater 1
Sibusiso Makhathini ... Panel Beater 2
Khaya Dladla ... GC
Lungelo Ndlovu ... Choir
Nkosinathi Mnqayi ... Choir
Gugulethu Zulu ... Choir / Zwi
Vuyelwa Laura Tshona ... Choir
Khaya Dladla ... Choir
Lungile Mkhize ... Choir
Bhekani Ngcobo ... Choir
Ntokozo Mzulwini ... Choir
Pule Matebesi ... Choir
Samkelisiwe Madlala ... Choir
Mlamli Ningiza ... Choir
Nqobile Ndlovu ... Choir
Oberon Moolman ... Choir
Sanele Gwala ... Choir
Zonke Mchunu ... Choir
Gugu Gumede ... Choir
Sinenhlanhla Mthembu ... Choir
Qiniso Zulu ... Choir
Vuyokazi Tshona ... Choir
Mondli Makhoba ... Choir / Pastor Nkosi
Brightness Zulu ... Choir
Bonginkosi Mdluli ... Choir
Thandeka Zulu ... Nombuso Dube
Brenda Mhlongo ... Buhle
Sbongiseni Ndlovu ... Musical Director
Sthembiso Mkhize ... Pianist
Nkululeko Mkhize ... Doctor 2
Sizwe Hadebe ... Guest Pastor 1
Ayanda Hlongwa ... Guest Pastor 2
Simphiwe Majozi ... Sbu
Nhlakanipho Mhlongo ... Gundi
Mlungisi Ndebele ... Nongoloza
Lungile Msweli ... Nonduduzo