IT’S been a firm fan favourite since it first hit the small screen last year. Now Imbewu: The Seed on e.tv is in its second season and it’s starting with a bang. The new season kicked off with Zakithi Bhengu, played by Nokubonga Khuzwayo (35), having her umemulo (coming-of-age) ceremony, the planning of which almost tore the Bhengu family apart.
The ceremony is a celebration of African heritage and innocence and Nokubonga tells Move! shooting the scenes was an emotional experience.
The coming-of-age ceremony, where young unmarried women are celebrated, is very sacred in Zulu culture – it’s a family affair.
As fans will know, Zakithi’s ceremony was postponed after it was revealed Ngcolosi (played by Tony Kgoroge), the man who had raised her and her siblings, was actually not their father.
It turned out her mother, MaZulu (played by Leleti Khumalo), had taken part in an ancient Zulu tradition that allows a wife to sleep with her husband’s brother if the husband cannot have children of his own.
MaZulu, behind Ngcolosi’s back, was intimate with her husband’s brother, Phakade (played by Sandile Dlamini), all with the blessing of Ngcolosi and Phakade’s mother, MaNdlovu (played by veteran actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones).
When the wounds of the paternity shock reveal began to heal, Zakithi put her umemulo back on the table. This comes after her boyfriend, played by Melusi Yeni, asked for her hand in marriage.
But, of course, it couldn’t happen without drama! Although the family welcomed the idea of the ceremony, Zakithi had conditions. She demanded
Phakade perform the ceremony, not Ngcolosi, because she and the man who raised her have never really seen eye to eye. It’s enough to keep you glued to your screens.
EFFECTS OF UMEMULO
To get into character, Nokubonga had to research umemulo.
“I didn’t know much about the subject and had to do some learning. I never had that ceremony and neither had I ever attended one,” she says.
“I asked different people and was surprised that everyone had different answers as to how the ceremony is performed. I then had to find a Bhengu family that could explain to me how they perform their ceremonies.”
She used this information to help her portray the ceremony perfectly. While wearing the traditional attire to shoot the scenes, she started experiencing emotions she’d never felt before.
“At the time, for some reason, I started feeling like I was close to my ancestors and merely wearing the attire was drawing me to them.
“I started experiencing constant headaches and began to have weird dreams. I kept seeing an older man in my dreams. It was strange because I’m not one to have dreams and remember them the next morning,” she says.
She decided to burn incense, which many believe helps get rid of unwanted energies. “It was a long and emotional day of shooting, but it was also a new experience.”
Nokubonga’s twin sister, Nokwanda (35), also stars on Imbewu and they play sisters. It’s fun working with her sister, Nokubonga says. “She sometimes asks for my help with scenes and lines.”
Nokubonga and Nokwanda are not the only Khuzwayo sisters on set.
Their younger sister, Sanele (32), does wardrobe for the show. “No, it’s not a family business,” Nokubonga says, laughing.
FUN FACTS ABOUT NOKUBONGA
The last book she read was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
The last holiday she went on was to Ibiza in 2017.
She loves working out.