In a blog post entitled “Five Reasons I’m Hopeful about Africa“, billionaire Bill Gates has named South African soapie “Rhythm City” as one of the top 5 reasons to be hopeful about South Africa.
Gates, who is a regular visitor to the continent,said that the soapie’s ability to convey everyday business issues, as well as the constant interchange between various languages, was a testament of how far the country has come since the end of apartheid.
“When I was in South Africa last year for the International AIDS Conference, I caught a fascinating TV show one night. The show is called “Rhythm City,” and it’s the most popular soap opera in South Africa,” Gates said.
“The show, which has characters speaking in the four main languages of South Africa (Xhosa, Zulu, English, and Afrikaans), revolves around people trying to break into the music industry. Some of the story lines are a bit out there (it is a soap opera, after all), but when you see the show it really brings home how far South Africa has come since the end of apartheid”.
“You take a step into the lives of everyday South Africans who are dealing with the relationship and business issues you’d see anywhere in the world. As the continent continues to develop and thrive, I predict we’ll see many other shows like this in other countries”, he said.
Gates noted that despite a tough year for many African economies, almost every trend on the continent has been moving in the right direction over the last decade.
The other 4 reasons Gates named as reasons to be hopeful about South Africa include the Instagram account Everyday Africa; Cassava hybrid crops; the role of grandmothers in African culture; and solar power.
While Gates is correct in Rhythm City’s popularity in South Africa, the billionaire has overstated it – it is still far away from being the most popular soapie on TV (a title which is still held by Generations: The Legacy), with other programmes such as uZalo and Muvangho also drawing higher viewerships.