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REVIEW | Shaka's animation movie debut on Netflix worth the wait

Inkosi Yamakhosi depicts a different take on childhood story of Zulu king

The poster for the animated film Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi
The poster for the animated film Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi
Image: supplied

The much anticipated debut of animated film Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi on global streaming service Netflix has finally arrived.

The short film which debuted on Wednesday was worth the wait, owing to its brilliant story presentation and production quality. The story is presented in simple and straight-forward format that will get viewers inspired by Shaka’s bravery.  

The soundtrack based on amahubo, indigenous spiritual songs, makes the story even more compelling. Credit should go to the editing team.

It is a well-known story of Shaka, the builder of the Zulu nation, focusing on his difficult childhood and the troubles he and his mother Nandi went through after they were kicked out of the royal house.

The animation brings a different twist to a well-known story and overall a commendable effort despite being packaged into just 14 minutes.

It features the voices of stars such as Lilian Dube as Gogo MaLamula Zulu, Ayanda Borotho as Queen Nandi, while Dawn Thandeka King speaks for Mkabayi, the aunt of Shaka's father.

The Wife star Mondli Makhoba is the voice of Shaka Zulu.

The story opens with a young boy called Siyazi Manzini experiencing a lot of bullying from other boys on his way to school. The bullying makes him reluctant to go back to school. In motivating him, his grandmother Gogo MaLamula Zulu decides to share a story of another young man, Shaka who experienced the same treatment by his peers and family and rose to become a powerful Zulu king.

The film shows how Shaka experienced hate and resentment by peers and other people for being born out of wedlock and labelled ivezandlebe – an illegitimate child, great taboo at the time. His case even more serious as his father was a chief.

Her own mother, Nandi, also experienced hardship from Senzangakhona and his aunt Mkabayi. Nandi ended up fleeing the Senzangakhona royal house and went back to her people, the Mhlongo of Elangeni. Further hardship forced mother and son into a life of wandering until they were accommodated by the Mthethwa people and their king, Dingiswayo.

The film does not only demonstrate Shaka’s bravery and intelligence but it encourages people, particularly children, to realise that within them there is a hero.

Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi, directed and produced by Manzini Zungu, premiered last year at Durban International Film Festival. Since then it has featured in various festivals all over the world, winning awards in the process. It won Best Animation Award at Paris Cinema Awards and received Best Short Film Animation at Genesis International Film Festival. It further got Best South African Short Film award at Durban International Film Festival.

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