Ingoma is a gritty new gqom drama worth watching

2018-05-06 00:00

City Press TV review

Show: Ingoma

Channel: Mzansi Magic (DStv 161)

When: Monday, 20:00

Mzansi Magic’s new drama is a noir take on the music industry through the eyes of a gqom group, called Sgubu, from Alice, a small town in the Eastern Cape.

The group faces a traumatic time dealing with the loss of a matriarch and the pressures of poverty. At the same time, a controversial music mogul, Leo Black, is in the spotlight for sexual harassment allegations and his brand and company suffer because of it.

These two plot lines play out in different parts of the Cape and intersect when Sgubu’s leader, Angel, goes to find Black. The story unfolds through interviews with Busiswa and DJ Tira, who describe how bad Black is and detail what seems to be the demise of Sgubu as a result of their connection with him.

The story is enticing and the execution is commendable. We are generally blessed locally with stunning locations and expert production teams. A large portion of the dialogue is in isiXhosa, which seems to make the most simple sentence mean more.

The cast is also a strong element of this show. Angel is played by Oros Mampofu, known for his role as Phila on the Mzansi Magic hit show, Igazi. The sinister Black is played by Buyile Mdladla of Generations fame. It’s an interesting role for him, considering that in 2010 his ex-wife Carol Mdladla accused him of beating her during their marriage. Two years later, he was accused of sexual harassment by a young actress. He never responded to the allegations.

The show, for me, is carried by the efforts of the women, particularly Angel’s younger sister Bongi (Matshepo Sekgopi), Black’s publicist Laura (Ayanda Dlamini) and Angel’s older sister and band mate Sino (Anita Sibozo). The women anchor this series, which is a good offering but not without holes. Black is always spoken about as a bad man with no respect for women. It would make things more vivid if some of that made it on screen.

Other gaps in the story include Sgubu’s rise to fame. The band comes from a one-horse town where few people make it out, and next thing we know Black is producing a song there is no evidence they worked on over the course of the series.

I don’t know how Angel or the others became musicians or how they came to make gqom in particular. Angel leaves Alice to find Black in the hopes of getting his band signed. In the process he endures a night on the streets, and even gets robbed – next thing, he’s a signed musician. I didn’t get the chance to feel the anguish of a starving artist trying to find a life line. The scene on the streets should have been an episode.

The show runs for 22 minutes, which is perhaps why it felt rushed, but this series has room to manoeuvre and grow. I would bring more of that E! True Hollywood story angle the writers are trying to work in with the interviews with Busiswa and Tira, while also bringing in more gqom stars

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