This month sees the launch of a six-part documentary series on SABC 1, set to tell the reel story of South African dance music culture Kwaito, by two award winning SA filmmakers, Vincent Moloi and Norman Maake. In Focus speaks to Moloi about the inspiration behind 'Vuma - A Music Revolution' and the impact they're hoping it has.

Vuma poster
"We hope this series will awaken in many people the need to bring honest South African cultures on to mainstream media and so change the TV landscape. So, the dream of bringing new, raw on-the-ground content continues,"says Moloi, who joined forces with Maake to form Glowstars, a production company that focused on telling the stories of urban youth culture.

"It feels very fulfilling seeing a dream become a wish, and then a concept till it turns into a film," adds Moloi. "It is, however, a very daunting realisation that we are telling a story that belongs to almost every black South African youth. Stories of identity are a big obligation especially if it's owned by so many people who have individualised it. But we couldn't resist the excitement it generates in us."

He explained that it took the two of them a year to conceptualise the series. "This is where the Gauteng Film Commission helped tremendously with development funding, and then it took us another two years to produce it."

How important is the Kwaito series to SA television industry? "Kwaito is an identity of most youth and naturally this makes it a big part of a South African identity as the youth are in the majority. Films are supposed to influence and reflect the psyche of our society and cultural expression is important to understanding your society."

Moloi hopes that in years to come, South Africans will open their history album and appreciate what this project has done. "It's very frustrating that most history is told by other communicators but not filmmakers. Today we can read so much about our cultural icons but there is not equal coverage in accessible audio visual format."

He describes Vuma - A Music Revolution as "very frank and raw in its making. We filmed it from the inside. The camera constantly lives in the heart of this culture, instead of a set interview in a cozy studio; we are where the music is made. In their studios and packed clubs, taverns, street bashes and taxis around the country. We also follow the sound in Southern African countries like Botswana, Mozambique and Lesotho."

The documentary series also tells the story of Kalawa Jazmee, one of the first black owned record labels to flood Kwaito across South African streets. And it shares how individuals pioneered this form of music, using money they made from selling boerewors outside clubs.

Even the geographical areas and social sites traveled during the shoot tell a story of a music genre that is still popular and entrenched in the hearts of many people. "With every gig, club or gathering where filmed, it was always a full house," he says, adding that he believes the story of Kwaito has never before been told in this way. "We were living in the heart of the culture night and day."

The award-winning Moloi paid tribute to the SABC for their support of the project, which the state broadcaster believed in and licensed from its early stages.

Will we be seeing more film projects based on the Kwaito music revolution in the near future?

Moloi replies: "After this one, I don't think we have a choice. We will need to keep going. And yes, we are already brewing other projects on the culture."