Hit tracks have been written about him; he is a consistent subject of social media memes; and now the life of controversial self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri will be made into a TV drama series.
The Moja Love production team is working on Bushiri: Inkalakatha, which is set to air next year.
With a cast of more than 1 600 actors and set to be filmed in more than 35 locations, the series is billed to become one of Moja Love’s most ambitious productions after hit show Uyajola 9/9.
“Our aim is to make sure that this is a historically accurate project. We want it to be accurate, dramatic and entertaining all the way, and to become one of the biggest commercial successes in the history of South African television viewership,” said Moja Love chief executive Aubrey Tau.
The concept was written three years ago by a team of writers and researchers who include producer and TV writer Bongi Ndaba, as well as former City Press journalist Ntombizodwa Makhoba, who visited Bushiri’s home country Malawi in 2019.
Production of the 13-part drama series is set to start in January.
“Our viewers are addicted to the type of shows that we give them and this project won’t be different. On satellite, Uyajola 9/9 is still the most watched programme in the history of pay TV.
“We think Bushiri: Inkalakatha will beat Uyajola 9/9’s numbers or be the second. We are on the way to making history with our television series and changing the way the industry approaches things.”
Even though they did not work with Bushiri directly, the researchers worked closely with people who are associated with the controversial pastor, who detailed undocumented parts of his life, including how he arrived in the country without money and rose to power and fame.
Bushiri: Inkalakatha will detail how, at the height of his power, the preacher, who is affectionately called Papa and Major 1 by his followers, filled up FNB Stadium during New Year celebrations every year.
“He was a very complex character who also had the capacity to inflict a great deal of pain and terror on many people, but his preaching was out of this world.
The series will also show the viewers how Bushiri fraudulently acquired his citizenship and made his great escape [from South African authorities with his wife, Mary – the two were out on bail after being arrested on charges of fraud] assisted by his mistress, who masterminded the plans,” Tau said.
He said Bushiri’s story would be the first of an Inkalakatha anthology, a series of true stories that Moja Love plans to produce.
The anthology will include titles such as The Battle for the Soul of the ANC in Polokwane; D-Day for Julius Malema; Shembe Church; The Firing of Thabo Mbeki; Soccer’s Biggest Betrayal: Stix Morewa vs Danny Jordaan; and Pentecostal Church: Modise Larger Than Life.
Bushiri and Mary are wanted in South Africa in connection with alleged fraud and money laundering to the tune of R102 million. They fled to Malawi days after they were granted bail of R200 000 each – under strict conditions – by the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court last year.