South Africa Pubcaster Suspends Popular Serial

South Africa’s longest-running soap announced an indefinite hiatus last week, the culmination of a year-long pay dispute that led to the entire cast being sacked in August.

Pubcaster SABC on Sept. 30 aired the last of its episodes filmed with the original cast. SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said that the pubcaster hopes to start airing new episodes in the first week of December, once a new cast has been found.

In the meantime, the show’s 7 million-plus viewers are left mourning the loss of a series that has been a part of their daily lives since South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994.

“Generations” bowed at a time when the country was just emerging from the shadows of apartheid. Nelson Mandela had just become its first black and democratically elected president. The country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was yet to begin its monumental work in addressing the crimes of the apartheid era.

With “Generations,” which was largely set inside the world of a Johannesburg ad agency, South African auds were introduced to characters who symbolized the country’s emerging black middle class. It made household names of stars like Sophie Ndaba and Menzi Ngubane.

Rumblings of discontent started last year, when the cast walked out over a contract dispute. In June, they took the pubcaster to court over claims that they were owed two decades’ worth of royalties.

Negotiations stalled. The producers dug in. In August, as the cast again went on strike, executive producer Mfundi Vundla warned on the popular Talk Radio 702, “There were other actors before. There will be other actors in the future.

“ ‘Generations’ will go on.”

This week, he made good on his promise.

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