From the creation of the first TV show we have always been drawn to captivating characters and stories that they portray partly because the best characters are a relatable reflection of our selves or those around us. They draw us in by allowing us to live through new experiences of drama, comedy and romance through the relatable characters they portray. Growing up in the 90's and 2000's it was almost impossible to find truly relatable and captivating characters that reflected the modern African identity. The closest we had was the often singular view of black american sitcoms.
It was only after the rise of Nollywood and the South African TV industry that we truly had the opportunity to see the multi faceted breadth of relatable African characters. Even with this, a lot of perspectives and experiences of our vast continent remain untold. It is within this context that one South African based Zimbabwean film maker Tendayi Nyeke, decided to tell a uniquely Zimbabwean tale of relationships, friendships and a dramatic unraveling of events.
What is working housewives of Harare and why is there so much hype around it on social media?
Working Wives is a story about 6 friends that live in Harare that present a front of fun, flashy
perfect lives but what lies beneath is far from that. It starts off at the central character, Mabel’s “perfect” surprise baby shower that unearths a lot of surprises about the women in her life and even her own.
Is there hype? Bring it on! I think its just because a lot of women see themselves and others in these
characters. It’s like an honest unveiling of different types of women and we do it with comedy and that’s hard to resist.
How did the idea of working housewives of Harare come to be?
The series is adapted from characters in Facebook posts my friend Sharon Bwanya wrote in 2017 after hearing a conversation between two women at the airport when they were trying to out “show-off” each other. What she wrote was so funny, I could see those women as i read the posts. Sharon said she saw herself in those women and honestly so did I.
I think I read Sharon’s blog post in October then in November I was in Harare and asked my friend
Nyasha Mwaire-Munangatire to do some improvisation on one of the characters at a restaurant in
Zimbabwe. She roped in an actor friend of hers, who roped in her friend and I roped in another guy (Tatenda Mbudzi) to play one of the male characters. We shot in all of thirty minutes, the lighting wasn’t great, the sound wasn’t great but I posted the video and a week later we had over 14,000 views and I knew there was something worth expanding. I knew a lot of people could relate to those stories and I love comedy so I wanted to bring them to life and here we are now.
What aspects of the Zimbabwean identity does the show portray?
It’s central focus is the Zimbabwean middle class woman who wants the perfect life. The women
range from early 20s (Mabel) to 40s (Mai Muporofita). They may live in the burbs or nice
apartments like Mai MJ, but their lives intertwine with every aspect of being African, the mix of
socio-economic backgrounds, common dreams of love, children, personal success. The conflict
of coming from African heritage but wanting to transact with Christianity. Its just about being a
modern woman and the complicated context comes with it.
Are there any ideas about beauty that you sought to portray?
There is no specific idea of beauty I aimed to portray in the series but to represent the women
as they see themselves. One character Mai MJ (Rumbi), swaps wigs around, will wear make up