Netflix launched in South Africa back in January 2016 and we've taken to it like wildfire simply because we're not really spoilt for choice. Prior to its official release in the country, all that was on offer was Multichoice's DSTV and Showmax. If you were technically inclined you could either use an illegal streaming website or access Netflix via a workaround.
Since its release, NetFlix South Africa now has now gathered well over 400 000 subscribers and the numbers are growing and while South African's can now enjoy some Netflix original series and curated content but as for local content, there is none. Local content may be missing but you can still find shows and movies about South Africa.
Netflix SA takes a hilarious shot at DSTV
Note: All titles on this list may not be available on Netflix as availability will depend on your regions and licencing rights with production houses.
Miracle Rising: South Africa
This documentary makes regular appearances on Netflix and illustrates a story of the remarkable changes in South Africa’s political transformation period. The documentary takes snippets of personal accounts from key figures to personalise South Africa’s transition to democracy and provides a good overview of the country’s impressive achievements.
21 Up South Africa: Mandela’s Children
21 Up South Africa: Mandela’s Children is an insightful and moving documentary that tracks a group of young children from the age of seven. In this version of the documentary, the children are now 21 and living in a radically changed South Africa. They provide candid accounts of their lives to the cameras, offering insight into young minds in a way that few other documentaries can.
Wild Safari: A South African Adventure
If you’re looking for a cutting-edge nature documentary on South Africa, you might want to look elsewhere, but this regular fixture on streaming services provides some interesting footage and insights into the country’s remarkable wildlife and nature reserves, and takes viewers beyond the documentary and into what it feels like to be there in person.
You Laugh But It’s True
South African comedian Trevor Noah has made waves around the world since he took over hosting of The Daily Show. One pleasant byproduct of his rise to international fame has been a resurgence of the live standup comedy shows that he built his name upon. You Laugh But It’s True offers fascinating insights into Noah and South Africa’s history as he prepares for his first one-man show.
Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia
Trevor Noah's is back on Netflix as they continue to push their stand up content. The South African comedian examines his roots and upbringings and tries to merge it with his recent American experience making for funny and unique observations.
Wildlife Quest is another nature television show that’s not exactly groundbreaking, but still worth a watch if you have a hankering for insight into the country’s diverse wildlife. The series is a regular feature on Netflix and takes viewers on a safari through a private nature reserve in South Africa.
The Power of One
Based on the seminal book of the same name, the 1992 film The Power of One didn’t quite live up to expectations. But if you can’t get hold of the book, or simply want to relive one of the more intriguing stories spanning South Africa’s transition into democracy, this regular Netflix movie might be worth a watch.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup took South Africa by storm, it made history by being the first Soccer World Cup hosted on the African continent. The Soccer City stadium in the heart of Soweto was the venue for the final. Now, the Soccer City documentary allows us to relive those golden weeks as the world descended to soak up the atmosphere at one of the most remarkable events to take place in democratic South Africa.
South African movie Inxeba may just have been effectively banned from local cinemas thanks to a new adults-only rating, but it’s available to stream on Netflix around the world. It’s a moving story about a young man undergoing ritual initiation, and his struggles to keep a secret in a largely patriarchal and intolerant environment.
Invictus was one of the first films exclusively about South Africa to feature A-list actors. Starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, the movie tells the story of South African President Nelson Mandela’s attempt to unite the country by enlisting the national rugby team on a remarkable mission: to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba, is perhaps the best cinematic take to date on the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela. It charts his life from his time as a young lawyer fighting against oppressive apartheid laws, through to becoming the country’s first democratically elected president. A great depiction of Tata Madiba and the sacrifices he made to bring about the beginning of the rainbow nation.
A powerful and moving film about a vibrant South African film that tells the story of a trendy 21-year-old with a talent for bringing neglected furniture back to life. Eight years after her father’s death, Ayanda aces the difficult task of resuscitating her father’s cherished auto-repair garage, which is deep in debt.
Netflix to launch an African Original series - Queen Sono
Netflix clearly sees the South African market is there for the taking and if they are to tighten their grip and start collecting more of DSTV's subscribers its going to need to produce African content, which is exactly what they are doing with the first show launching this year (2019). Queen Sono will centre around a complex, diverse female character, in line with how Netflix has sought to shake up leading man roles with shows like Jessica Jones.
The shows will draw inspirations from previous classic spy drama that you may be used to on the small screen like Alias or La Femme Nikita. South African actress Pearl Thusi will take up the mantle of the lead role as Queen Sono. Sono will have to juggle dangerous missions along with personal dramas. She will work a spy agency in South Africa and her missions will take her across the continent.
Netflix taking an African interest
Do you think more local content will encourage Netflix adoption? What do you think of their first attempt at an original series? Have you seen any of the shows on our list? Are there any shows you feel should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments.