Isibaya's head writer pays tribute to fellow colleagues as the show comes to an end

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The cast of Isibaya on set.
The cast of Isibaya on set.
Isibaya Twitter

Mzansi Magic’s much-loved soapie, Isibaya is coming to an end. After rumours of the show being canned surfaced in November, the channel has officially announced the sad news.

The cast and crew of the show filmed their last scenes on 2 February 2021 and since then, many of them have expressed how they feel about the show coming to an end and have written heartwarming farewell messages.

Sdumo Mtshali who played the role of Sibusiso Ndlovu, a character we’ve seen develop from a young man who fell in love with the daughter of a rival family to a father figure and a businessman – took to his Instagram page to reminisce on the past eight seasons.

READ MORE | 5 of Lindiwe Ndlovu's most memorable on-screen roles

“8 seasons playing father and son! 8 seasons constantly teaching our audience about the importance of family, culture and black love! One of my grateful career moves of all time. Thank you Bheki Mkhwane. Thank you @bomb_productions thank you @isibayamzansi thank you @mzansimagic thank you @dstvza Photo credit: @simphiwebarni ,” he captioned a picture of himself and Bheki on set.

Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa who played the role of the full-of-personality Sizakele – a devious character who’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants - said that even though she only recently started on the show, she's learnt a lot from the experience. 

In a series of posts, actor and head-writer of the show, Chris Radebe - who plays the role of the king, Dabula Ngubane - took to his Instagram page to share (in detail) what the experience of working with each actor was like. 

Let's take a look at some of his tributes: 

Chris on Gcina Grace Olifant

Image from Instagram

And now for the Queen of the show. Where do I start? If there’s one thing I regret about being on Isibaya, it’s not having enough scenes with this gem of an actress and human being.

God knows I adore her. When Sis’ Gcina is around, I become a complete idiot around her, because she is literally the funniest woman I have ever met. She always asks, “What did you smoke today?” That time I’ve never smoked in all my life. Thing is, Sis Gcina has no idea how funny she is.

She is hilarious! She says the funniest thing with a straight face, and then watches you roll on the floor, laughing, and asks you with a naughty half-smile: “Manje uhlekani?” And then, when it comes to the work, she treats every scene like it’s her last. She over prepares, and never misses a beat.

I’ve met very few actors who take their work more seriously.Politics? You can miss her with that rubbish. She’s here to do a job, and if you get in the way of that, she’ll put you in your place in the calmest of ways.

If she complains about a scene, or the story, you listen, because it’s not coming from a place of arrogance. She knows a lot, but she’s by no means a know-it-all.She loves everybody, and she expresses it. You want to say something negative about another person, try next door. Sis’ Gcina is simply not interested.And she’s got the best comebacks. Try roasting her and you’ll come second by some distance.@gcinagrace you know I love you, and I pray to God I get to work with you again someday soon. ??????

Chris on Zinhle Mabena 

Here’s to Zinhle! 

When I took this video, I was just excited to see two of my absolute favourite actresses in action.

But, inadvertently, what I ended up capturing was a typical moment in Zinhle Mabena’s professional life.

I am yet to meet someone who loves performing as much as Zinhle. She is the happiest person on set, and doesn’t need a reason to be. She is always listening to music, or watching silly videos on her phone, or cracking jokes that shouldn’t be funny, but are. And yet, when the time comes to perform, Zinhle takes to it like a duck to water. 

And she does it with the greatest amount of joy. 

Because she’s so playful, you don’t immediately see it, but this lady is a perfectionist, when it comes to her work. She’s the type that will ask the AD for another take when the director is happy with the first one. She wants it to be PERFECT. 

And then, when the scene is over, her face breaks into a big, beautiful smile and she says something incredibly stupid to make you laugh. She’s completely moved on from the scene. 

Our arguments are my favourite thing on set, because of how dumb they are. Everyone finds them funny. She never understands why I’m frustrated with her, and I’m always confused why she doesn’t understand why I’m frustrated. I think she secretly thinks I’m crazy. I know she’s crazy. But if she’s not on set, I don’t want to be on set. 

@ms_zinhlemabena meeting and working with you was definitely one of the highlights of my 2020. Thank you for agreeing to come back to the show. 

Chris on Melusi Mbele, Sayitsheni 'Mdarkie' Mdakhi and Abdul Khoza

Image from Instagram

This image is a dream for me, because I love every last one of these gents. It’s the camaraderie for me. People who just want to work and have fun while they do.

My new dream? To do something outside of Isibaya with all of them.

@melusimbele and @mdarkies you both know how much I love you, gents.

@abdul_khoza mfwethu, I’ve only spent a few days with you, but it’s been an immeasurable pleasure. It didn’t come as a surprise, because I always thought you were a great guy, and I’ve been a fan of your work since I first saw you on screen.

What did take me by surprise, though, is how unbelievably funny you are. That, I didn’t see coming.

I don’t know how you can be so serious and hilarious, all at the same time. I struggle to keep a straight face around you. Our scenes are painful to shoot, because I’m always worried you’re going to say something funny, with the most serious face, and take me out of character. Your random punchlines leave me in stitches.

But the respect you have for your craft, mfethu... it humbles me.

I hope this is only the beginning. 

Chris on Mam' Thembi Nyandeni

Image from Instagram

And now for the KING!

This one is the toughest, because this remarkable lady is very close to my heart.

Some people can love you and not tell you, for whatever reason. Those people are not Mam’ Thembi. Mam’ Thembi is not those people. When Mam’ Thembi loves you, you will know, because when Mam’ Thembi loves you, Mam’ Thembi will tell you. And when Mam’ Thembi tells you she loves you, you will feel it. And you’ll feel the hug that comes with it.

Generous, warm, caring, funny. Those are just some of the words that spring to mind when I hear Mam’ Thembi’s name. 

But do not mess with her. She will cut you down to size. Respect her and she will respect you, even if you don’t deserve it.

She calls me her medicine, because she says it doesn’t matter what mood she’s in, if she’s in a scene with me, she knows she’s going to laugh. 

Frankly, if I accomplish that, my work is done. 

And, man, does she laugh!

My scenes with her take forever to shoot, because when I say something disrespectful to her, she bursts out laughing. And then we have to start over. ??

But make no mistake, Mam’ Thembi is one of the most professional people you’ll ever find. She takes her job very seriously. I guess that would explain her longevity. 

A born performer, there is nothing Mam’ Thembi hasn’t done in the entertainment industry, yet she still shows up for work like it’s her first day. She’s a master of her craft.

And doing scenes with her, oh my goodness! I laugh a lot, because she cracks a lot of jokes. But really, what I want to do in those moments is to cry tears of sheer joy. Because... what an honour. 

And her stories? 

Everyone will tell you I follow her around like a bad odour, just to hear her life stories. And she knows how to tell a story. She will grab your attention from the first word until the last. And then you’ll just sit there with your jaw on the floor, wondering if you really just heard all of that. 

Mama, you know how much I love you, because I tell you all the time. 

Thank you for being you.

Isibaya coming to a close marks the end of a beautiful era in the South African telenovela space. The soapie told an authentic South African story that provided insight into one of the most feared and spoken about topics in South Africa – taxi violence and the taxi industry. The show will be dearly missed. 

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