Graphic circumcision drama returns to SABC

2010-12-05 12:56

The controversial circumcision drama series, Umthunzi Wentaba, will return to the nation’s television screens in April after a three-year absence.

The series, which was aired on SABC1 in 2007, was approved in September.

Its production will cost more than R7.5 million, according to internal SABC ­documents seen by City Press.

Executive producer Seipati Bulane-Hopa said this week that she signed a contract with the SABC more than a week ago for the new series.

Ochre Moving Pictures, the producers of e.tv soapie Scandal!, has started pre-production of the 26-episode series which will run for 30 minutes a week.

The first series was written by Grahamstown teacher Mntunzima Nkwinti and concerned a young Xhosa boy, Ndoda (played by Luvo Mgweba), whose circumcision divides his parents.

It dramatically revealed the­ ­tension between culture and modern trends.

Nkwinti, a history and arts and culture teacher at Nathaniel Nyaluza High School, initially wrote the drama for the 1998 National Arts Festival in Grahams- town, but audiences encouraged him to pitch it for television.

Opposition to the flighting of the first series came from the ­Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, the National Heritage Council and ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga, then Kara Heritage Institute director, who objected to the graphic portrayal of circumcision.

The SABC even stopped the drama halfway through its run and ordered producers to reshoot the third episode.

At the time, industry insiders complained that the SA Screenwriters’ Association, of which ­Nkwinti is a member, was surprisingly silent during the controversy surrounding the show.

This time, Bulane-Hopa promised, “there will be variations and the story line will be different but will still have the old features”.

She said the focus would not be on ­circumcision but on taking the ­story forward.

“That concern (circumcision deaths) was for a specific period,” she said.

She insisted that the controversies three years ago were important and helpful.

Nkwinti, who is currently a ­consultant for another production, welcomed the return of the show.


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