Yizo Yizo 1 - A gritty, uncompromising television drama series set in a township school that has achieved record-breaking audiences and cult status amongst South Africa's youth.

Rape, murder, prostitution, abuse, HIV/AIDS. Serious issues. We wanted to contextualize them for people with the power of music, laughter, friendship and glamour to match the gritty authenticity of the work. Simple, universal themes proved their power to move audiences.

Street language made it into the family lounge and gave different generations the insight to a shared vocabulary with which to describe their reality. It is a stirring thing to see audiences screaming at the screen, dancing to the music and taking ownership of what we thought was ours.

The first series won 5 Avanti Awards including Best Production and Best Director. It also won the Japan Award and is being screened at festivals in London, Rotterdam, New York and Barcelona.

Ronnie Nyakale gave such a riveting performance as Papa Action that gangsters across the country saluted him as the ultimate thug. Ronnie won the Best Supporting Actor Avanti Award.

I have lived a lot of my life in prison. Since I was 12 I have been in and out of jail. In prison you die inside. One day I just got tired of it all, of jail, of the black hole I called my life. And I decided to change. I am out on parole now. Getting a part in the YIZO YIZO series was the first miracle!
Israel Makoe

"after my first hijacking, I knew I had made a mistake. I tried to get out. It was like I was in a river and couldn't stop myself from flowing down with it"

YIZO YIZO is the story of an ordinary school overcoming extraordinary obstacles. It is about the struggle of ordinary people to learn, play, teach, read, dream, love and find their place in the world. The school year starts at what seems a well-ordered Supatsela High. This reflects the efforts of the current principle, a strict and conservative man who attempts to make the most of limited resources. It soon becomes clear however, that his authoritarian style holds together by force a situation that is fundamentally unsound, and that it cannot continue to do so when the cracks in the ordered relationships of the school and its community begin to widen.

After a student is badly beaten at his hands, the principal is replaced by a charismatic BMW-driving colleague, who is in the pocket of the local township gangster. An end of term bash plummets Supatsela High into chaos. The start of the new term finds students and teachers facing a situation that has turned from bad to worse. Will drugs and gangsterism mean the end of Supatsela High? Can students and teachers work together to turn this ugly situation around?

Amid the education crisis, students grapple with the realities of teenage social life, where social confidence, academic success, emerging identities and sexualities are played across and between the boundaries of different social groups.

Click to access the Yizo Yizo 1 Cast List...

Click to access the Yizo Yizo 1 Crew list...