The time has arrived for the debut of South Africa's first Xitsonga series Giyani: Land of Blood.
It premieres on SABC2 this Monday (1 April) at 21h30 and will air Mondays to Wednesdays, taking on e.tv's Imbewu: The Seed in the same timeslot.
As we spilt previously, the series is written by Mzansi's power writing couple Phathutshedzo Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon of Tshedza Pictures and tells the story of land.
A battle for land between two families: The Baloyis and the Mudaus.
If you missed the memo on what it's about, this is the official description followed by a juicy Who's Who snack pack of the characters:
The action of Giyani is set round a fertile banana plantation which has been returned to the community after a successful land claim.
Under the apartheid regime, the land had been assigned to the Van Reenen family who had built their considerable wealth through the banana plantation, which supplied every major supermarket in South Africa.
The farm, reclaimed by the community, is renamed Tiakeni - a Xitsonga phrase meaning “Build Yourselves”, in tribute to the community’s perseverance and success in taking back their land
Enter the battle between the Mudaus and ....
Musawahosi "Musa" Baloyi
Played by Wiseman Zitha
Born and raised in Risinga village, Musa is the eldest child of Mike and Thulare Baloyi. Always the brightest one in class, Musa never allowed his background of having an unemployed alcoholic father and a working class mother stop him from pursuing his goal to become a lawyer.
When he passed Grade 12, even without a bursary he was determined to study further but there was no money in the house.
All his mother could afford was the enrolment fee. Musa set out to study LLB Law at the University of Limpopo.
Like many young South African men, he struggled to find work and instead of doing nothing, he went back to Giyani and teamed up with his friend Tiyiselani, another LLB graduate to form their own small law firm - Baloyi and Partners.
Running a business in a small town has not been easy for Musa, but he is determined to serve his community.
His life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers that the government has given Richard Mudau, a former MK and former cabinet minster, who is marred by accusations of corruption, the rights to curator the newly reclaimed farm - Tiakeni, and he is determined to stop the man from pillaging his community.
Unbeknown to him is that Richard and his father Mike have a history that goes back to the days of the struggle.
Gezani Mike Baloyi - "Bra Mike"
Played by Charles Baloyi
Behind every broken black man there is a tale of betrayal. Mike was born and raised in Risinga. His parents worked in the Van Reenen Banana plantation.
He saw the brutality of the apartheid regime as a young man watching how his community was living under oppression - all this was in the late 70’s.
In the 80’s, at the height of the state of emergency, him and his then girlfriend Gladys Chavalala (now Mudau) joined the ANC and skipped the country to join the MK in Maputo.
Mike was a brilliant man, a radical thinker who had desires and ambitions to see black people's lives changed for the better.
He gave his heart and soul to the ANC. It was while in the camps that he met Richard Mudau, and a friendship developed between the two of them, which grew into a brotherhood.
Thulare Tsakani Baloyi
Played by Linah "Ebony" Ngcobo
Affectionately known in the community as “Mhani Tsakani”, she is Mike’s dutiful wife who has loved him since she was 16 and waited for him while he loved Gladys, only to receive him as a shell of a man when he came back from the struggle.
She a woman-in-waiting, she has given her life and her soul to this man and their marriage, as she believes that he can one day go back to the firebrand he once was.
Tsakane was also born and raised in Risinga and worked in the banana plantation to be able to put food on the table, while Mike drank himself to a stupor.
But after Musa graduated and started his own law firm, she was able to stop working in the farm, mostly to be able to look after her husband.
She is a mother most people wish they had - she is firm and fair, yet she suffers no fools. There is a grace in how she carries herself in the community and has no “airs” about her.
Mahlori "Pero" Baloyi
Played by Noel Ntshuxeko
Tsakane and Mike’s youngest child - Musa’s younger brother and the “born free” who scoffs at anything related to apartheid.
He was born in a different era and is not happy with his family circumstances. He fails to see his father for the man he could be, but chooses to see him as a failure.
A teenage boy in high school who dreams of the big city - he wants to leave this “stupid backward village” and head to the city to live the promised land.
He is rude and impatient, lacks the backbone that his brother has and feels entitled to success, without the desire to work for it.
Sello Richard Mudau
Played by Ndivhuho Mutsila
Born and raised in Soweto, Richard came of age when the 1976 uprising happened in Soweto and he experienced the full brutality of the apartheid regime.
By the early 80s he had become active in the movement and skipped the country to join the MK in Maputo, which is where he met Mike Baloyi and his then girlfriend Gladys Chavalala.
Richard is a complex man, he doesn’t shout - he is not arrogant. He is a man who presents himself as the savour of the people, with an air of eerie humility that can fool even the wisest of man.
He portrays himself as the people’s person BUT he is just a thug in a suit, whom his comrades and everyone still refer to as “Bra Rich” or SR by his former comrades. Money has the power to corrupt noble men and Richard isn't a noble man.
Tutu Gladys Mudau
Played by Yvonne Chaka Chaka
Miss Ellie from Dallas or Helen of Troy in Greek mythology. In Giyani everyone refers to her as Mhani Tutu, and some call her Chavi - short for her maiden name Chavalala.
Gladys was born and raised in Risinga and this is where she met her homeboy Mike.
He is the one who awakened her to the political struggle that was happening in the country and as young lovers they had illusions of grandeur about changing the world.
Together they skipped the country to join MK in Maputo, where Gladys and Mike met Richard.
They became a trio of friends and unbeknown to her, Richard had taken a liking to her the moment he saw her.
Today she is a woman who has a taste for the finer things in life, and can give Lindiwe Sisulu a run for her money when it comes to class and sophistication.
Gladys has forgotten where she comes from, the struggle that it took to liberate her country - she has now become selfish, greedy and is driven by the need for more.
She is a ruthless woman who possesses very few motherly traits.
Played by Mathabo Mothibe
At first glance Khensani seems like an entitled child of a struggle veteran who feels like the world owes her something just because her parents were in exile. But in close proximity she is “Xena Warrior Princess”.
Born just before the dawn of the new South Africa, Khensani didn’t have a silver spoon in her mouth until her father went into cabinet.
After Grade 12, Khensani had a passion for environmental affairs and studied at Free State University where she graduated with a degree in environmental studies.
When the series begins, Richard has just taken over the banana plantation in Risinga, with a plot to steal money generated by the project, but to be able to succeed without creating havoc - he has cajoled his daughter to come on board as a manager of the farm.
In her desire to please her father, Khensani has agreed - what she doesn’t know is that she is a pawn in her father’s deadly game of greed.
Khensani is not a city girl - she has always visited Risinga and has a great relationship with her extended family.
She feels at home here but she is tested when she now has to take over as the farm a manager and find her voice in a community where patriarchy still rules.
Her life is thrown into turmoil when she falls in love with Musa Baloyi, the son of her father’s nemesis and the man determined to bring down Richard at all costs.
Hlengani Joseph Chavalala
Played by Obed Baloyi
Gladys’s older brother and Richard’s brother-in-law. Hlengani is a man with a dream deferred.
Having worked his whole life at the plantation, when he heard that Richard was taking over the farm, he had hoped that his brother-in-law will make him the manager but his dreams were thwarted when Richard hired his own daughter Khensani instead.
Hlengani is “Scar” in The Lion King. The embittered man, who doesn’t like to be challenged, whether it be at home or at work. He is muscle without brains.
Ringani Ruth Chavalala
Played by Susan Maeko
Hlengani’s long-suffering wife. In Risinga she is known as Sesi Ruth. She is a kind Christian woman who hopes that one-day God will soften her husband’s bitterness.
A worker at the farm, she is thrilled that finally there will be black owners on the farm that she’s worked at since she was 16.
She is an idealist who believes that things will always work better for the community and chooses to see the good in people.
Played by Glennis Mabuza
Gladys and Hlengani’s mother - Richard’s mother-in-law. Tshinakaho Rambuda came into Risinga many years ago when she was just a young bride, married to Lazarus Chavalala - she's settled in the valley all her life.
Even though her Venda heritage still lives in her blood, she has become one with the community and sees herself as more Mutsonga than Muvenda.
She's a no-nonsense-taking old lady who has seen life change in this community over the years.
She has little faith in Richard and always thinks that her daughter could have married Mike – maybe he wouldn’t have ended up as a drunkard.
To her Richard, with all his decorations - he is an outsider, an interloper. She loves her granddaughter Khensani and sees her as her father’s own way of atonement.
A pensioner, who once worked the plantation - she wishes her husband had lived long enough to see the land returned to the community or Risinga.
Vukosi with Richard
Played by Fumani N. Shilubana
Vukosi is the Giyani Municipality Ward Councillor. Known as Ba Moyo by outsiders, women and juniors. He is a man wrapped around the need for personal enrichment at all costs.
He is Richard’s right hand man, who fancies himself as more powerful than he actually is.
He is arrogant and pompous, a boy who thinks he is a man. He fancies himself as a ladies man and is not beneath using his position to get women.
Played by Nyelethi Khoza
Tiyiselani and Musa grew up together and went to high school together. Theirs has been a childhood friendship that parents assumed they would end up together.
Tiyiselani was raised in a house of boys and as the only girl, she grew a tough skin from an early age, especially when her father died when she was 10 years old.
She watched as her mother struggled to support all five children with the little pay she earned from working on the farm.
She has a brotherly relationship with Musa, who seems to understand her.
iyiselani has never had much success in relationships and as platonic as her friendship is with Musa, she secretly hides the desire that one day he can see her as a woman and not just “one of the boys”.
Johnny Risenga Homu
Played by Themba Hlongwane
In Risinga Johnny thinks he is the big man as he has been the foreman at the plantation for years now.
Everyone loves his jovial mood and peers have named him Marikana, while women and juniors refer to him as Buti Joni.
At work he is the domineering man, but at home his wife is the one who calls the shots. He is always in a good mood and doesn’t sweat the small stuff.
Diane Topisa Homu
Played by Candy TsaMandebele Mokwena
Shebeen Queen and Johnny's wife who is known as Mhani Dayina by everyone. She runs the tavern in Risinga and has a sharp tongue.
She's very assertive - men find her intimidating because she is not afraid to speak her mind.
She doesn’t care much about what other people think of her; she is just living her life. She is loud and a bit over the top, from make-up to wardrobe.
For a village woman she always seems to be way ahead of other rural women.
Played by Siphosethu Sihlangu
He is Vukosi’s long-suffering assistant at the municipality. He is a deeply principled man who finds himself working for a man with no moral compass.
He's a family man who recently got married and his wife is expecting a child - so he really needs his job and has learned to tow the line with Vukosi.
But when he can no longer stand by and watch Richard and Vukosi steal from the community, he threatens to expose their secret... he doesn't live long.