Playwright, actor and musician, Mbongeni Ngema, announced a few months ago that his TV channel, ZuluTV, will be launched early next year.
In an interview that we had with him, he revealed that he's always wanted to have a TV channel, but he never realised just how much work needs to go into it.
How's it going with the Zulu TV preparations?
It's a hell of a lot of work. (Laughs, while scratching his head). Putting on a stage production is difficult. Preparing for a whole TV channel is even more difficult. Like 10 000 times difficult. But then I have a dedicated team that I'm working closely with and I know we'll make it.
What makes it so daunting?
It's making sure the channel is ready to go on air on time. That's very important to us and we don't want to have to postpone. Also the issue about content. We need to have content that will fill 24 hours on the channel.
Why was it important for you to have a TV channel?
I've been in that position where I've wished to have my own TV channel. I guess I've always aspired to have one, so now it's happening. Another thing is that few black people in the world have their own TV channels. I think Oprah Winfrey is the only one. I thought that needs to change.
Is Zulu TV going to be broadcast in IsiZulu only?
Oh no. The plan is for the channel to be broadcast all over Sub-Saharan Africa and even in the northern African countries. While there will be an IsiZulu bias, we will have content in KiSwahili, English, several of the Nguni languages (Xhosa, Ndebele, SiSwati). We are trying to see if we can get TshiVenda and SesSotho content too. But there will be no Afrikaans programmes on the channel.
Is there a particular reason why?
There already is an Afrikaans channel- kyknet on DStv and ASTV on TopTV (StarSat)
You held auditions for presenters, actors and voice over artists this past weekend. How did it go?
I hear it went really well. I wasn't present as I'm a busy man and I'm preparing for the Durban leg of The Zulu. But I heard that we had close to 5000 people here trying their luck and I'm sure we'll find many talented people who will be great assets to Zulu TV.
When should we expect Zulu TV on air?
The date is 22 January 2013 and we start shooting shows in December 2013.
What kind of shows can we expect on the channel?
There will be music programmes, coverage of heritage, tourism, arts and culture. There will be programmes about lifestyle, magazines programmes, and naturally, musical theatre, drama, sitcoms, movies, short films, documentaries, religion and current affairs. Social networks will also feature very strongly.