Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Queen Modjadji: Interdict to block MultiChoice from airing rainmaker TV series heard today.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net are confident that the premiere broadcast of the new Balobedu-inspired drama series Queen Modjadji will go ahead this Sunday on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and that an urgent interdict won't be granted today to the Balobedu Royal Council trying to block it from airing.

In a Game of Thrones-like political skirmish, Rain Queen Masalanabo Modjadi is represented by the Balobedu Royal Council who opposes MultiChoice and M-Net's making of the series. 

Prince Lekukela Modjadji is however represented by the Modjadji Royal Council and worked with MultiChoice and M-Net to produce the Queen Modjadji series. 

The Balobedu in-fighting and legal battle has been waging for years following the council's decision in 2021 to give Prince Lekukela Modjadji the crown to the kingdom instead of to his sister Princess Masalanabo Modjadji, with this feud which caused a ripple effect on the making of Queen Modjadi as a fictional TV series.

A broadcaster or production company is not obliged to consult or even employ researchers for the creation of a fictional work of art – even if based on, or inspired by real-life people or events – but MultiChoice, M-Net and Rhythm World Productions did pay for research and consultation with tribal leaders, academic experts and other stakeholders to make Queen Modjadji.

Queen Modjadji the series is inspired by the first legendary Queen Modjadji, whose bloodline ruled has ruled Southern Africa’s Lobedu clan for centuries and is produced by Rhythm World Productions.

The drama series stars Makoma Mohale as the title character Maselekwani, as well as an ensemble cast including Mudi Mudau, Putla Sehlapelo, Priscilla Raboroko and Moses Raseleke as the royal healer.

The Balobedu Royal Council in Limpopo has now brought an urgent application for an interdict of the Duma Ndlovu-produced series and claims that Queen Modjadji as a fictional drama series will undermine and marginalise the Khelobedu language and Balobedu people. 

Chief Gabriel Rasebotsa brought an application to the High Court in Pretoria to prevent MultiChoice and M-Net from airing Queen Modjadji.

"The Balobedu Royal Council was not consulted and the Queen was not consulted. We have been undermined by the Apartheid government, " Rasebotsa said to SABC News.

"The attire to be displayed in the documentary does not represent the Balobedu attire. The use of the Ndebele, Zulu and Xhosa attire constitutes a misrepresentation which – within the cultural context, where unique traditions and symbols are pivotal to the cultural heritage – constitute and insults me and the people of the Balobedu Royal Nation."

MultiChoice says "there is no factual or legal basis for the application. We are confident that the court will dismiss the case and that viewers will not be deprived of the opportunity of watching this epic story, inspired by the Balobedu legendary rainmaker, the first Queen Modjadji".

Advocate Terry Motau SC represents MultiChoice.

Similar to the roll-out of the first season of Shaka Ilembe also inspired by the legend of Shaka Zulu and which had a premiere screening and media launch event at Monte Casino in Johannesburg last year, MultiChoice and M-Net are planning a similar premiere screening and media event for Thursday evening for the debut of Queen Modjadji at the same large cinema venue with VIP guests.