Patronising and quiveringly bad TV


Andile Gaelesiwe and Dingaan Siyabonga Khumalo
Andile Gaelesiwe and Dingaan Siyabonga Khumalo


Moja Love (DStv channel 157)

Saturday, 7:30pm

. . - -

Moja Love TV has garnered quite a reputation for perpetuating negative stereotypes and for its often skewed portrayal of black people. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good session of trash TV but after watching the first few episodes of Moja Love TV’s new show, Mamazala, which tackles problems between in-laws, I was ready to cancel the hour-long cringefest.

The first episode is about the life of Rebecca, an aggrieved daughter-in-law with a philandering husband.

She consults traditional healers about her marital problems and enters a “spiritual trance” live on television. She also believes there is a tokoloshe in her house which is interfering with her marriage.

I found this portrayal of Rebecca patronising and harmful, given the negative and often mythical depictions of traditional healers.

The show could have confronted societal perceptions about traditional healers, yet all it offered was the makings of a dramatic Daily Sun headline. The producers missed an opportunity to explore deeper and more intimately the intersection of Christianity and African spirituality. Instead, they opted for sensationalism, making African spirituality seem juvenile and demonic.

In the second episode, the aggrieved woman says she was raped and physically abused by her husband, and her mother-in-law turned a blind eye to the abuse.

This is a very important conversation to have, especially given the levels of gender-based violence in our country right now. I wish the show had given this issue more attention.

The episodes that follow are informative and prompt conversations that many people may find helpful. Mamazala also touches on some important issues – such as the apportionment of an estate after the death of a family member. It explores how such cases can cause family disputes. Other matters it discusses include plans for co-parenting families and disputes that arise when families come from different cultural backgrounds.

I enjoyed pockets of the show in which legal experts and other professionals shared their expertise on resolving such conflicts.

I also found that the counselling sessions were informative – both for the participants involved in the show and viewers curious about their rights.

Dingaan Siyabonga Khumalo is a good presenter and has an innate ability to resolve conflicts and bring down tempers. However, with reports alleging that the actor is a deadbeat father and an abuser, it is in bad taste to have him hosting the series.

I think Andile Gaelesiwe, who hosted the show’s second episode, would be a better fit.

Ultimately, there are redeemable aspects of the show that could be useful to many viewers and my suggestion would be to change the presenter and dial down on the sensationalism.

The producers of Mamazala should also consider having sessions to reflect on how the previous guests are doing and if they have been able to resolve their conflicts.

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