What happened to the days when guys courted women to get to know them? Like a man waiting patiently at a riverside, freshly picked field flowers in hand, hoping his ladylove will show up as the sun sets so they can have long talks.

Thanks to the rise of social media, these days a suitor is more likely to slide into your DMs to ask, “WUU2?” The producers of TV drama Isibaya wanted to bring attention to the lost art of Zulu courtship, known as ukushelwa, to remind men how to treat women.

DATING DIARIES

In the show, Duma has made his intentions known and like a true gentleman, gives Qondi time to process. But this seldom happens in real life, says the actress who plays Qondi. Jessica (29) believes ukushelwa has been replaced by quick-and-easy hookups. She says it’s rare for a man to put in the work to make a real connection.

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“There’s a famous phrase on social media now, ‘Shoot your shot’. It means you have an opportunity to take your chance via social media and you might end up being in a relationship.” It’s far from what she considers an honourable way of getting a woman’s attention. “It’s really sad that in this day and age we have lost it,” Jessica says.

“He wants to comment on two photos for some attention, then DM and after that, it’s on? No! Or him sending a text saying, ‘Hi’. Just ‘hi’? What must I do with your ‘hi’? Am I supposed to ask, ‘How are you?’ Are you kidding me?” she says. “Respect me enough to make an effort,” Jessica tells Move!. “Send me flowers. Shock me. Surprise me.”

CULTURE AND RESPECT

The conversation of ukushelwa goes beyond the context of a relationship, adds her co-star Asavela Mngqithi. Asavela plays cupid. Her character, Ntwenhle Ndlovu, is orchestrating the union of Duma and Qondi. “Courting does matter,” she tells us.

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“It lays the foundation of what’s going to happen. Ukushelwa sets out what the guy plans to do and why he wants you. It touches a lot on our culture too.” These are questions that should be answered in the process of ukushelwa. “It’s all about a woman’s pride,” she says.

Asavela (22) still can’t believe she’s in one of the biggest shows on TV. She joined Isibaya after auditioning in 2017. Before that she made a name for herself on Facebook by posting funny videos. Jessica is also bowled over by her big role, she tells us. She admits when she first read the script, she wasn’t sure she could pull off the role but has since grown into a small-screen favourite.

“I love Qondi’s growth,” Jessica says. “She’s gone through so much. She used to be the girl in the background. Then she went through being raped by her husband and killing him. “It’s been beautiful for me to play this person who has so many dynamics,” she adds. “It’s a dream come true.”