AMAZA incorporates the principles of MenCare in its storyline

Compiled by Community Media Trust for MenCare

A male character from AMAZA, the South African TV seriesAMAZA, meaning waves in IsiXhosa, is a South African youth drama series that has been airing on Mondays at 8:30 pm on SABC 1. The 13-part series is set in a quaint Muizenberg street that runs from the beach front and the Surfer’s Corner to South Pen – the local college where a diverse group of students learn to deal with cultural and historical legacies that mold them.

The story takes the audience on a journey of four main characters in their early twenties as they try to make sense of their decisions. Siyabonga Mayola (26) portrays a young father by the name of Bongani Mapanga; Shamilla Miller plays Ayesha Ibrahim, an eager sportswoman battling with her love for surfing and her faith; Zikhona Mda (28) is Thembi Kamva, a tenacious journalism student while Sean-Marco Vorster (23) plays a young, ambitious surfer, Jaco du Toit.

AMAZA is a developmental production spearheaded by an entire team of Community Media Trust, proving that any challenge with the right support can be a success. Lucilla Blankenberg, Co-director of AMAZA and Director of CMT, credits the cast and crew of AMAZA for its smooth transition into producing CMT’s first drama series, which meant partnering and consulting with specific stakeholders on themes relating to fatherhood, loss of power, teenage pregnancy and taking responsibility.

On AMAZA, one of the characters, Bongani Mapanga, is forced to face the reality of being a father quite early in life. His role probes questions on being a father; however, beyond this, his character reflects on the deeper story of his own absent father, influencing how he sees himself and moreover how he cares for his child. The series also stirred up some relevant and thought-provoking feedback on how South African youth are dealing with the issue of absent fathers. Using mostly Facebook and Twitter to engage youth on the theme, most viewers extended praise for seeing Bongani take responsibility. In one of the posts, viewers were asked: “Do you think Bongani is a ‘Perfect 10’ for taking responsibility and finding work?”

The responses were a short “yes”; however, some captured the learning and unlearning that took place. “Yeah if he laid down n make a baby he must stand up n be a daddy,” commented a female viewer. Also, another female viewer said, “Yeah xem he is startng to tyk responsibility for his chIld…evn though I h8 the fact that he doesn’t seek help frm his father!” This is bearing in mind that most comments were from female viewers who watch AMAZA, week after week, to see what really happens with baby Vuyokazi and her father.

The story of Bongani is one of many, and it was the intention of AMAZA’s directors, Lucilla Blankenberg, Laddie Bosch and Tim Spring, to ensure clear behavioral and emotional changes when it came to the character of Bongani, specifically when taking responsibility for his actions. From as early as Episode 4, a spectrum of TV consumers began to see the impact of fatherhood, a new role for Bongani, which speaks to the work and purpose of the MenCare campaign.

AMAZA will air its final episode on May 5, 2014.