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Is 'Blood Psalms' an African 'Game of Thrones'?

The first two episodes of Blood Psalms, the first Showmax Original fantasy series, are now streaming. Early reviews are glowing, with TVMzansi calling it, “Without doubt, the best TV show ever created in Africa”; film critic Leon van Nierop saying it's “the biggest and most spectacular production of a local series yet” and TimesLive echoing the sentiment that it's “African fantasy at its finest.”

Blood Psalms African Game of Thrones

Set in ancient Africa, the action-packed series follows Princess Zazi (Bokang Phelane) as she battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through ancient curses, long-standing tribal vendettas, and godly wrath. A sprawling story encompassing many tribes in an ancient world with a burgeoning cast, it's easy to see why it's been compared with Game of Thrones.

The fantasy series is epic, something echoed by local entertainment journalists such as TV Plus' Genevieve Terblanche who says "the scope of Blood Psalms is astounding" and that "watching it feels as exciting as being an astronaut exploring new worlds."

"What Jahmil XT Qubeka and Layla Swart have achieved with Blood Psalms is something that will go down in South African TV history books like the Yizo Yizo and Intersexions of the world, series that came and changed the game when folks least expected it," writes Movies And Things With Tha-Bang on TVSA.

Swart and Qubeka were the creative force behind South African Oscar submissions Knuckle City, Sew The Winter To My Skin and Of Good Report, which won seven SAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director.

Qubeka says he has always been fascinated Africa, the uncertainty surrounding the continent's history, providing a great platform from which to build the world of Blood Psalms. This sweeping action-adventure series is set 11,000 years ago, before the Great Flood, following tribes that moved south, fleeing the disaster that was engulfing Kemet and Kush (northern Sudan). The process of building "a world that doesn't exist" has been a font of creativity for Swart, reiterating that every single costume and piece of the set had to be designed and built from the ground up.

Based on the factions and scale, the show has been called an African Game of Thrones, a title Qubeka gladly accepts with the caveat that their real focus is to "create heroic archetypes for African children", something sadly lacking from the cinema and television landscape right now.

The cast boasts nine SAFTA winners - Bongile Mantsai, Hamilton Dlamini, Hlubi Mboya, Mothusi Magano, S'dumo Mtshali, Siv Ngesi, Thishiwe Ziqubu, Warren Masemola, and Zolisa Xaluva - and features all of your favorites, including Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa to Lemogang Tsipa, Faith Baloyi to Faniswa Yisa, Mandisa Nduna to Niza Jay, Richard Lukunku to Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Thabo Rametsi to Thando Thabethe, Thembikile Komani to Zikhona Sodlaka, and many more.