30 May 2009

South Africa: Their WDYTYA started this weekend

South Africa's version of the BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are?" starts Sunday, May 31 at 9pm on SABC2.

The family-orientated documentary series allows some of the country’s top celebrities to go face-to-face with the hidden history of their ancestors and provides a journey of emotional discovery for them and the audience.
“These are highly personal films, yet the wider historical themes they reveal relates each personal story to a wider history that the audience shares in,” says SABC2 publicity manager Zandile Nkonyeni.

This format allows us to get to know the celebrity better, but mostly it allows us to explore our history in a fascinating and neutral way. It allows us to discover areas of our country which today look very different.”
The six episodes connect by combining documentary, revelation of a detective story, biography and big picture history, shared by the audience of a nation.

Well-known personalities include actress Nthati Moshesh, TV presenter Candice Moodley, singer HHP Jabulani Tsambo, SABC2 news anchor Riaan Cruywagen, Isidingo star Meshack Mavuso and comedian Kurt Schoonraad.

The celebrities' stories demonstrate the history that created modern South Africa and will encourage viewers to start exploring their own history.

Ancestry24, a comprehensive ancestral and genealogical service, assisted the producers and researchers, while its channel manager spent hours in the archives and other repositories to assist with the research of the individual celebrities. If you have South African ancestry, you might want to check out the website, which offers a beginner's guide, the 1907 Who's Who, directories, vital records, biographies, community history, government gazettes, tombstones, a forum and a blog - even DNA testing.
“We effectively travel back in time to meet the featured celebrities’ extended family and those who knew them, and walk where their ancestors lived and worked,” she said.

The international series format has triggered a general interest in family history and a return to libraries, museums and domestic travel as people go back to the small towns they or their families came from.
The first episode focused on actress Nthati Moshesh, who's also the great-great-granddaughter of King Moshoeshoe, the first king of the Basotho people. In the segment she crosses into Lesotho to speak to historians and family members.

It seems everyone in the world is already watching the show in a local version, except for the US. Oh well.

Read more here.

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