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Zakes Mokae television: 2000s
Mokae continued to take professional roles in major series, The West Wing and Monk.
The West Wing and the episode In This White House (2.4). Directed by Ken Olin in 2000 and written by series creator Aaron Sorkin. At an AIDS conference Mokae plays President Nimbala of Equatorial Kuhndu.
Mokae wants the American pharmaceutical companies to provide AIDS medicine at prices his people can afford, but he is aginst the might of big business.
Mokae reaches a deal with the President (Martin Sheen) where his country will be provided with aid. But then he is notified there has been a coup. He later hears that his brother and children have been reported dead. The President offers him asylum but Mokae wants to go back to his people, despite warnings his life will be in danger.
The next day the President is informed President Nimbala was assassinated in the airport car park.
Nimbala speaks mostly via interpreter, but sometimes in English. Mokae gives a commanding performance, totally convincing.
The episode is highly regarded: "It is one of the best of the best episodes - it avoids both an easy slam of pharmaceutical companies (even though they of course have much to answer for, they are not entirely dens of iniquity), and rosy-tinted or naïve solutions for Africa. Pres Nimbala of the fictional Equatorial Kuhndu is played by the wonderful Zakes Mokae, with real dignity, agony and integrity. The impact of this episode has not diminished since the first time I watched it- and having known friends die of AIDS in E Africa, and seen the tragic cycles of violence and corruption that compound the problems, it is painfully close to the bone. The conclusion of the episode breaks your heart - but is all too realistic. But as ever, the intensity and seriousness is given Shakespearean counterpoint, with the whole sequence of Ainsley Hayes’ drubbing of Sam and her subsequent recruitment". (Mark Meynell at Quaerentia- markmeynell.wordpress.com- included with kind permission).
Images from the DVD of the episode.
Mokae does the voiceover of Mr. Bakoosa in The Valiant Little Tailor, part of the HBO animation Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. Written by Daryl Nickens and directed by Bruce W. Smith. 2001.
Mokae appears in the episode Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man. Monk is a comedy-detective series, similar to Colombo but with more humour. The detective Monk, played by Anthony Shalhoub, has obsessive compulsion disorders which provides most of the humour. His sidekick is Sharona Fleming, played by Bitty Schram.
In this episode, directed by Adam Davidson in 2002, a possible murderer has a perfect alibi- he was running in the marathon. Mokae plays a champion marathon runner- did he help the murderer?
When Monk visits the scene of the murdered woman, he notices the speed dial on the phone has one entry blank.
He guesses this could be the number of a lover who she didn't want anyone else to know about. They trace the person and he was her lover, and could have a motive, but he was running the marathon when the murder was committed.
All runners carry a computer chip and the entire race is tracked. Monk checks the computer record and the suspect appears to have run the entire race.
Monk visits Mokae, one of his marathon heroes, to see if he knows anything, but Mokae doesn't. He does however discover Monk used to run marathons but lost his confidence.
Monk and Fleming think the murderer planted his chip on another runner, so he could jump out of the race without being noticed.
Mokae appears in African dress and gives his usual affable performance, encouraging Monk to regain his confidence, though in the running scenes it is clear Mokae is no marathon runner.
All images from the DVD.
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