Will ‘The Wife’s’ Nkosana replace Mqhele as the new ‘national husband’?

Before they knew him as an abuser, fans of the Hlomu book series fell in love with the character Mqhele as well as all those in his world like his brother Nkosana and other characters from the book series.

The book allowed space for the book series’ author Dudu Busani Dube to flesh out the character, thus giving readers the chance to see him as more than the violent, raging maniac his on-screen persona (brought to life by actor Bonko Khoza) has come to be known as. 

Both people who read the highly acclaimed book series and those who only know the story of The Wife through the Showmax show have failed to find that same love for Bonko’s Mqhele. 

Though initially enamoured with his portrayal of the macho and sometimes romantic Zulu taxi driver, fans fail to feel the love for the fantasy of Mqhele.

As season two of The Wife gains a foothold, we’re left to wonder if Mqhele’s older brother, Nkosana (Mondli Makhoba) will take over the hearts and minds of the viewers and usurp the “national husband” throne. 

Makhoba is a classically trained actor who has performed on big stages around the world before making his transition to the small screen where he starred in a number of films and TV shows such as Generations The Legacy, Isithwmbiao, Uzalo, Imbewu, eHostela, Easy Money and Roots. 

Using all this experience, he has brought the character of Nkosana Zulu, affectionately referred to as Ubuthi Omdala (big brother) to life. 

Nkosana’s character has been described as that of a man who is “of a few words” and thinks carefully before he acts.

As the oldest of the Zulu clan, he serves as the leader of the family after the brutal murder of his parents.

He is also devoted to his wife, Zandile (Khanyi Mbau), with whom he shares a warm and everlasting love. 

ALSO READ: ‘The Wife’ season two takes things to raunchier, darker place

Read on to get to know the man behind the role as we catch up with the actor, who hails from eMacambini in KwaZulu-Natal, and is also a published poet who writes primarily in isiZulu.

How different is Mondli to Nkosana? 

There are similarities. Nkosana is the eldest at home; Mondli is as well. He’s very protective of his family, which Mondli is too. So those similarities have helped a lot, and make it easier to play Nkosana.

But Nkosana carries a lot of anger that Mondli doesn’t. Each and every day I have to come back and get out of character and leave Nkosana on the set, otherwise you’ll hear bad stories. Yeah, he’s complicated … 

Mondli Makhoba
Mondli Makhoba as Nkosana Zulu on Showmax’s The Wife | Picture: Supplied

How did you prepare for Nkosana in Season 1? 

It’s very hard when you start at the very beginning if you’re still trying to find the backstory of the character, but once you’ve done that, it becomes part of you. So when I get on set, as I take off Mondli’s clothes and put on Nkosana’s clothes, that’s the transformation. I start thinking like Nkosana. It starts there.

I’m a spiritual person. I know with these characters that we play, we are given to play. So I go to a zone where I talk to Nkosana and ask him to play. So I feel like I’ve met him.

What’s changing in Season 2? 

Having Zandile back brings out another layer for Nkosana, where we see him soft and loving.

That side of Nkosana that we didn’t see in the first season. It also makes us understand why he had to work so hard with his brothers all these years. Why the heists? Why everything else they were doing to save money? Zandile is the reason why. 

mondli makhoba and khanyi mbau
Nkosana and Zandile Zulu | Picture: Supplied

The challenge now is how Zandile fits in. Over the years, as he was working on getting her out, he was subconsciously creating a system that works for him, with the hope that Zandile will fit in.

So now the question is: Will she fit in? Will she feel loved? Will he have time for her? Will she feel that she’s got his attention? So let us wait and see.

The family is in a lot of trouble with regards to his brothers, so we also still have him as the glue of the family, trying to make everyone gel and stay focused.

What has it been like working with Khanyi?

Working with Khanyi has been great. She’s very gifted and she just pulls you into that world where you are supposed to be. It’s magic. I cannot wait for our audience to see more of that because, yoh, it’s great.

Tell us more about the dynamic with the kids, Hlomu and Zandile? What does Nkosana feel would be the best possible outcome?

Obviously the kids love Hlomu. She’s been there, helping them through everything, all the chaos that they have as a family. 

But Nkosana wants his family together. He wants to see Zandile and their kids play. He wants to see them gel as a family.

So he wishes and hopes that they love their biological mother more, that they have that bond that mothers and kids need to have. 

Tell us a bit about the chemistry with other actors 

The chemistry between the brothers, it’s amazing.

We have that brotherly chemistry going on, which makes it easier for us when we are in front of the camera. 

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