New Kabanana, new cast members

State television, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) is now producing Kabanana after a signed agreement with Picture Perfect Productions (PPP), the originators of the show ‘ which mandated the national broadcaster to meet all production costs of the local soap.

Zambia’s leading mobile phone service provider CELTEL Zambia has now assumed the responsibility of sponsoring the soap that is shown every Sunday evening.

PPP executive producer Lawrence Thompson said ZNBC’s sponsoring production would propel the show to international standards. “This has been done in many countries where national broadcasters sponsor local soap operas, we hope this development will enhance the quality of the programme to greater heights.”

Old episodes of Kabanana have been showing in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda and Kenya, among other countries in the sub-region.

The addition of new cast members has seen the creation of more story lines, thereby shifting the focus away from the Kabanana family after the departure of key cast members. The new faces were picked following three months of auditions in Lusaka.

The “Kabanana” family disintegrated after the departure of Kangwa Chileshe and Namasiku Mundiya, who played siblings Jason and Tracy but in reality were ‘seeing each other’.

‘Jason’ and ‘Tracy’ actually got married in real life and have since moved to the United States to pursue Theological studies.

Other family members, Phakeni Makowane (Matongo) and Laiza Phiri (Dr Kalumba) also left the show to pursue other careers ‘ but Matongo has since promised to make a come-back in the soap.

In the new episodes, seasoned actress Towela Natasha Manda now plays the role of the lawyer Tracy Kabanana; her physical features and gestures though are not very different from the original Tracy, making her a perfect choice for the part.

The role of Jason has been taken over by the dashing R’n’B musician Mainza Chipenzi. Despite not trying out for the part during auditions and having no acting experience in the past, Mainza’s good looks and his soft toned voice are his strongest qualities.

A husband, father, a musician and now actor, 30-year-old Mainza says although he enjoys acting, music will always be his first love having already released two albums. “This is something I have wanted to do and so far it’s been a great experience, but as much as I am enjoying acting, music will always take centre stage in my life. It is who I am.”

Perhaps taking over one of the most difficult roles is 5FM newscaster Patricia Ellis who replaces Amina, Jason’s Asian wife. Some viewers have labelled her portrayal of Amina as “too fake”. It was always going to be a challenge to replace the original character whose facial innocence and vulnerability coupled with an Asian background made her a popular figure on the show.

Patricia was picked not only on the basis of her acting ability but because she was the only person that showed up to audition for the part. Despite being coloured she was offered the part.

Joining the cast of Kabanana “the parallel” is Esther Chisenga a Public Administration student who beat more than 20 other contestants to become the new Lizzie, a role played by Esanju Kalopa who died in a tragic traffic accident last year.

Barbra Chekuda Maramwidze is the new Dr Kalumba, another seasoned actress who has featured in a Bread of Life Church production entitled Cold Harvest. And the exit of Malwa Shinka, who played Namakau, has seen Gladys Musaba, an established actress take over the role.

Instead Chris is appearing in the soap playing the role of Modise, a South African businessman who wants to take over Gemlites, a company owned by the Kabanana’s.

Inside sources say the producers are still trying to persuade the original actor, Phakeni Makowane to return and take over the part of the arrogant Matongo, a character that he has perfected very well.

The rest of the cast members are still intact and fans across Africa can now watch as the love triangle between Esnart, Ba Robby and Dainess unfolds.

August 2006
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