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Books & Film

Showmax Reveals Top-Streamed Kenyan Series of 2023, with RHON and Local Productions Taking Center Stage

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In a recent announcement, Showmax, the African streaming giant, unveiled the most-watched series of 2023, showcasing the burgeoning success of locally produced Kenyan content.

Topping the list were acclaimed titles such as Real Housewives of Nairobi (RHON), Single Kiasi, and Crime & Justice, demonstrating the significant impact of homegrown narratives on viewer engagement.

The streaming platform’s diverse Top 10 lineup also featured noteworthy productions like Second Family, the inaugural Kenyan Telenovela on Showmax, and Kyallo Kulture, a reality series spotlighting media personality Betty Kyallo and her sisters. Kenya’s first original animation, Twende, and A Merry X-Mass, the second-ever Kenyan Christmas movie released in December 2023, added a creative flair to the mix. Faithless, another compelling local production from 2023, rounded out the impressive list.

While specific viewer figures for the Top 10 shows were not disclosed, Showmax celebrated RHON in March 2023 as the “biggest Showmax Original in Kenya yet.” Starring Vera Sidika, Sonal Maherali, Minne Kariuki, Lisa Christoffersen, and Susan Kaittany, RHON not only claimed the coveted top spot upon its launch but also set a new standard by breaking streaming records. Its first episode became the most-watched launch episode ever for any title on Showmax in Kenya.

This remarkable achievement underscores the growing prominence of locally crafted narratives on the Showmax platform, reflecting a dynamic and flourishing entertainment landscape in Kenya.

As the streaming service continues to champion diverse stories and innovative productions, it solidifies its role as a key player in shaping the future of the African streaming industry.

Books & Film

Unveiling the Luo Legacy: A Chronicle Profile of Clans by Stephen Osieyo

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Luos in my opinion are among the most traditionally preserved cultures among Kenya’s diverse cultural gathering. We all have heard either myths or stories about their beliefs albeit some very interesting. Stephen Osieyo’s “Luo of Kenya: Chronicle Profile of Clans” is an exploration of the rich history and culture of the Luo community. Delving into the origins and legends of the major Luo clans, such as Alego, Gem, and Seme. Osieyo’s engaging storytelling makes complex historical narratives accessible and exciting, bringing to life notable figures like the legendary warrior Luanda Magere and political icon Tom Mboya.

While the book acknowledges some gaps, like the omission of southern Nyanza clans, its comprehensive scope and vivid detail make it a must-read for anyone interested in Kenyan history and cultural heritage. “Luo of Kenya” is a celebration of the Luo’s enduring legacy and their significant contributions to Kenya’s socio-economic and political landscape.

This book is a brilliant chronicle that promises to enlighten, inspire, and provoke thought. How does your culture differ and how much do you agree with the Luo? Dive into this enthralling narrative and discover the profound legacy of the Luo people and the reputation they wield.

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Books & Film

“Mvera”: A Riveting Drama of Escape and Redemption

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I recently finished watching “Mvera,” a powerful film directed by Daudi Anguka that left a lasting impression. The movie follows the harrowing journey of a woman named Mvera, played by Susan Kadide, who becomes ensnared in an organ trafficking ring. The story is both a gripping thriller and a poignant social commentary on the exploitation masked as opportunity. “Mvera” was Kenya’s official submission to the 2024 Academy Awards by the Oscars Selection Committee Kenya (OSCK) to vie for the Best International Feature Film Award.

Mvera’s struggle to escape and return to her community to warn them is heart-wrenching and suspenseful. Susan Kadide delivers a standout performance, portraying Mvera’s resilience and determination with emotional depth. The supporting cast, including Carolyne Rita Mutua, Hillary Namanje, and Patrick Owino, add authenticity and gravity to the narrative.

The cinematography effectively captures the contrasting settings of Mvera’s ordeal, from the stark, oppressive environments of the trafficking network to the warmth of her home village. This visual storytelling enhances the emotional impact of the film.

“Mvera” not only engages with its thrilling plot but also raises critical awareness about the dangers of human trafficking and corrupt wanna-be politicians. It challenges viewers to look beyond the surface of seemingly benign opportunities and consider the hidden threats that many face. The ability, especially financially, to vie for a political seat does not make you qualified.

“Mvera” is a compelling and thought-provoking film that combines suspense with a powerful social message. I highly recommend it for its strong performances, engaging story, and its important commentary on exploitation and resilience.

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Books & Film

Navigating Memory and Identity in Yvonne Adhiambo Owour’s novel;”Dust”

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Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owour

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s “Dust” intricately weaves personal loss and political turbulence into a narrative deeply rooted in the Kenyan psyche. The novel opens with the violent death of Odidi Oganda, unravelling a deep exploration into Kenya’s soul and making it an essential read for understanding contemporary Kenyan issues.

Owuor’s prose vividly explores Kenya’s landscapes—both geographical and emotional. The journey from Nairobi’s chaos to the arid expanses of northern Kenya mirrors a deeper voyage the characters undertake, confronting their pasts and collective national memory. This raises profound questions about identity, belonging, and reconciliation.

“Dust” reflects current struggles with corruption and political instability in Kenya, portraying the grim realities of societal betrayal and colonial history’s lasting impact on governance and cohesion. This resonates with the current political climate and the public’s demand for transparency and justice.

The novel also challenges you to think about the formation of historical narratives and who controls them. By shifting perspectives and timelines, Owuor suggests that history is a dynamic, contested space. This is crucial as Kenya grapples with its diverse ethnic and cultural histories, seeking a unified national identity.

Additionally, “Dust” meditates on the nature of memory and its present impact. The characters’ struggles with their memories and choices of what to remember or forget directly address the national conversation on historical amnesia and the importance of confronting the past.

“Dust” invites introspection and dialogue about Kenya’s future direction. It urges readers to acknowledge their painful history and the shadows of their personal and collective memories to move forward. Owuor compels Kenyans to reflect on how their individual stories intertwine with the national narrative, advocating for a future where such stories are heard and recognized.

In conclusion, “Dust” is more than a literary achievement; it’s a vital cultural artefact that provides deep insights into confronting Kenya’s past to pave the way for reconciliation and a cohesive national identity.

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