Langa ear pull

Langa in car crash as Gomora turns one

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Langa is the likeable child in the dysfunctional Ndaba family. In their Sandton days, Only Langa could be bothered to remember the helper’s name while father Mbongeni was sleeping with is secretary if not defrauding investors, sister Buhle was essentially the miniature version of her self-centred and materialistic mother, Thathi. If the screenwriters wanted to maim or kill anyone, the affable Langa should have been their last choice.

Langa’s invention takes off

 

Although Langa did most of the work, he received plenty of help from Principal Dlamini to get his app working. The first of its kind, Langa’s app translates exam questions into vernacular languages in order to even the playing field for learners who struggle with the English language. Of course, nobody is a better guinea pig for the app than Teddy Zondo who is always low on English bundles. Teddy sat for a very difficult examination whose questions had been drafted by deputy principal, Jackie Hlungwane (real name Leera Mthethwa). After a tense wait for Miss Hlungwane to complete the grading process, Teddy scored a rare distinction.

 

Langa and Principal Dlamini raised the bar a little. They broadened the live test to include more learners. Teddy again passed the exam and 65% of the class obtained distinctions. When Langa invented the app, he was only thinking of using it to obtain a scholarship to university, but Principal Dlamini sees greater potential. Next step was the education department. But even the most life altering inventions have their own detractors.

 

Thathi and Gladys clash over Langa

 

The more time Melusi spent working with Langa, the more jealous his mother became. If Thathi’s reaction to seeing Langa and Melusi together is jealousy then we will need a much stronger word to describe how Gladys felt about the Melusi-Langa interactions. As well as anxiety about her son discovering his true paternity, Thathi was seized by an irrational fear of losing Langa to Melusi. For Gladys, Langa is merely an extension of Thathi, her husband’s ex girlfriend. Unless you slept through the entire year, you will be aware that Melusi and Thathi were sweethearts, 17 years ago. The result of their romance was Langa who was born after Thathi ensnared rich banker, Mbongeni Ndaba so neither Gladys nor Melusi know that Langa is actually a Dlamini.

 

Under pressure from Gladys to keep her son away from Melusi, Thathi discouraged Langa from working with Principal Dlamini. But Langa told her flatly that if Thathi insisted on making him choose between his mother and Principal Dlamini, “it would end in tears.” Put plainly, Langa would choose Melusi over her.

To smooth things over, Thathi telephoned the MEC for education, who is an old acquaintance from her days of money. He agreed to meet Melusi, Langa and Thathi to discuss the exam translation app. Thathi and Langa looked like they had resolved their differences… until that green eyed monster once again took possession of Thathi’s body. I’ll return to that later, right now I’m hearing wedding day ululations.

Mam Sonto sets bride price

 

If you have ever attended lobola negotiations, there are two things that you can always expect to see; uncles dressed in awful jackets and a quarrel over the bride’s worth in cattle. Pretty’s lobola negotiations served up both. Negotiations came to a sudden halt over disagreements about the lobolo amount. Sbonga’s uncles came with R12,000 in hand, which is all that the groom had managed to put together in the past three years. But they hit an immovable wall in the form of Mam Sonto. As the groom’s kinsmen tried to haggle, Mam Sonto photobombed the all-male negotiating room. This did not go down well with the old timers in ugly jackets who objected to having a woman insert herself in such important matters. Her place was in the kitchen they told her. Mam Sonto held the back of her head, as if a vein had exploded inside her skull. Say what!

Sonto reminded Sbonga’s people that their nephew owed her for all the food he ate, the rent free years of living with the Molefes and the job she gave him in the tavern. Sonto concluded her rant with one demand; I want R15,000.

One good thing did emerge from the lobolo meeting; we finally know Sbonga’s last name.

 

Sbonga humbles himself for love

 

Sbonga Madida had been saving R300 every month for the last three years. R12,000 was all he had to offer his future mother in law. Faced with a R3,000 deficit, Sbonga Madida – yes, I’m going to keep saying his last name to make up for all the time he walked around with one name like Usher or Madonna – had to make a plan because the wedding date was fast approaching. Pretty and Sbonga had set the date for Friday, which gave them very little time to plan the wedding.

Sbonga Madida – yes, say it again, Madida – tried to get a bank loan, but that didn’t work out. He asked Sdumo and almost got himself beaten up because Madida owes the young thug money which was part of the loot that Cleo ran off with after the Phusha scam. Finally Sbonga Madida tried Melusi Dlamini. The principal agreed to give him the R3,000, on condition that he does some cleaning work. When Sbonga took a look at the learners’ toilets, he almost threw up. But his love for Pretty overcame nausea.

 

Pretty went looking for her future husband. She had good news. When the future Mrs Madida found Sbonga, she discovered him with rubber gloved hands and his head bowed over a filthy toilet bowl. And the good news? Mam Sonto had agreed to give Pretty away for R12,000, like a Black Friday sale for daughters.

 

Wedding day

 

When the groom has been the freeloading beneficiary of his mamazala’s charity for sixteen years, it shouldn’t surprise you when his wedding venue turns out to be…. his mamazala’s tavern. Okay, I’m being mean.

It’s amazing what a few table cloths and carefully selected flowers can do for a dingy room. Sonto’s tavern looked like something ripped from a fairytale page on the day of the wedding. Because “traditional is cheaper” – their exact words – the bride and groom chose African print fabrics rather than the expected white dress and black tuxedo. The guests mirrored this dress code too which kinda makes you wonder why Africans ever fell for the white wedding scam.

 

It may have been Sbonga and Pretty’s happy day but it was a dark Friday for others. Langa left his tablet in his grandmother’s office. When he returned to it, he found the gadget drowning in alcohol. I don’t have Langa’s oversized brain but Thathi was the last person to be seen with the iPad in Sonto’s office. She also rang the MEC to cancel the pitch for Langa’s app. Later she told Melusi and Langa that the MEC had postponed. She is my prime suspect in the murder of Langa’s dream. But even though she drowned the iPad, Langa’s invention wasn’t dead in the water. He had saved his material on Cloud. When he told Melusi about the damaged tablet, the school Principal offered to buy him a new laptop.

 

Langa in car accident

 

As the wedding guests danced at Sonto’s Inn, the picture reel rushes forward to a chaotic scene in the hospital ER. Melusi’s face and shirt are blood smeared. On a fast moving gurney is a boy with his eyes shut. Paramedics shout instructions to the hospital staff.

“Seventeen year old motor vehicle accident victim…..”

 

The scriptwriters rushed through this scene. As Langa is wheeled in, Melusi is shouting “we got hit by a truck! Take him to surgery!”

I don’t know where – not even on the moon – a patient with no medical training tells doctors and nurses to take anyone to surgery. At most, Melusi should have said “please don’t let him die.” The research team dropped the ball here. In this age of information, viewers deserve better.

 

If Thathi is responsible for the damage to Langa’s iPad, then she may come to regret this. Secrets of DNA and blood types have a funny way of coming out in hospitals.

 

Happy anniversary Gomora. Here’s to ten more seasons.

 

Till next week, my pen is capped

 

 

Gomora airs weekdays at 7:30pm on Mzansi Magic and is also available on Showmax.

 

Images from Twitter, video from YouTube

 

Connect with the author on Twitter @RewindMzansi

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