Roots brings history to life on

Global hit series features a stellar international cast alongside SA acting talent

Regé-Jean Page charms a chicken in Roots.
Regé-Jean Page charms a chicken in Roots.
Image: Supplied

The global smash hit TV series Roots has been receiving extraordinary praise from viewers across South Africa since it made its free-to-air premiere on at the beginning of November.

Roots, one of the most important stories ever told, is based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel Roots: The American Family.

The four-part mini-series reflects the heartbreaking struggles that many Africans encountered in the 1700s when they were traded as commodities in the American slave trade. The story revolves around Kunta Kinte, who is taken from Juffure in West Africa to be sold as a slave, and his family.

Episode three, airing this week, takes place 10 years after the birth of George, who is the son of Kunta’s daughter, Kizzy. Kizzy is owned by Tom Lea, who took her as a slave years before. He sexually assaulted Kizzy and nine months later George was born.

The story now shows George coming into manhood, with Tom Lea showing him his love of training chickens for cockfighting. Kizzy becomes anxious about George’s fascination with the sport, but he becomes a master of it and earns plenty of money for his owner.

From Kizzy, George inherits strong traditions of family and a desire to be free. He convinces himself that one day he will buy freedom for himself and his family. Tom Lea loses a reckless wager with an Englishman and sells his son to an Englishman to save his farm, whereafter George is taken to England to raise fighting cocks.

The cast of Roots features top international award-winning talent, including Malachi Kirby, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Forrest Whittaker and more, alongside well-known South African actors Nokuthula Ledwaba, Mbulelo Grootboom and Nandi Nyembe.

Nyembe has described Roots as the story “that every young person in South Africa should see”.

Catch the riveting and emotionally charged Roots at 8.30pm on Mondays on

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