TV guide: Proudly South African tale

2011-01-21 09:49

Set in a vast cultural landscape ‘with its rolling green hills, oceans and mountains’, as host Archbishop Desmond Tutu says. Travel documetary, The South African Story is a reflection of all that this country is made of. Farrah Francis caught a glimpse of the series.

When watching The South African Story, one phrase comes to mind: Proudly South African. And who better than to enshrine that feeling than Nobel Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu? The series is set on our soil and allows this influential figure to tell the South African story in the style of a travel documentary.

The first episode looks at the Western Cape and, while the opening scenes could easily pass for one of those corny 2010 World Cup adverts, Tutu certainly adds charisma and depth. His starting point is the magnificent Table Mountain. He adds with his famous chuckle: “When God created all there is, you really can understand how He could look at the southern most point of this African continent and say: ‘Hmm, even if I have to say so, this is pretty good work. I think I’ve got to do something special here. This is a place where two oceans meet.’ And so God put together the mountains and the plants, and produced this fantastic gateway in the south.”

Tutu begins his travels in Western Cape exactly where it all started, with the Khoi San. He talks about the rock paintings and the first inhabitants of South Africa. The cultural history that The Arch touches on focuses on the influence of the Dutch settlers and the Cape Malays, and explores the architecture of Bo-Kaap and the Winelands.

He also explores iconic figures from Cape Town, including Tannie Evita, while looking at what the city has to offer in terms of arts, fashion and entertainment. He touches on historical landmarks such as Robben Island and the day president Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Although Tutu explores the Mother City in awe, he doesn’t hide the fact that there is poverty in the city.

What makes The South African Story stand out is the way it has been shot and produced. There is an international standard that cannot be ignored and the series, judging by the first episode, is sure to make it on to the Travel Channel. Sharp shooting, interaction with the people, fantastic photography and a wonderful score sets the tone for the episodes to come.

The Arch explores all nine provinces to tell the tale. From Western Cape, he moves to Free State, Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, ­Limpopo, Gauteng and completes his journey in Eastern Cape.

This nine-part travel documentary, which was filmed between January and April last year, reflects on the roots of South Africa, the struggle, the pain, and the emergence of the country we know and love today.

» The South African Story premieres on SABC3 on February 1 at 8pm

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