23 May 2019
5 Swahili telenovelas to watch on Showmax
Don’t let certain horrendous Swahili subtitles try to convince you otherwise: Swahili is such a beautiful language and any attempt to butcher it must not ruin your day.
It’s a love language that has been used to win hearts onscreen and captivate audiences, a technique that seems to be working for filmmakers like Reuben Odanga and Lulu Hassan whose Swahili telenovelas Selina and Maza have revived the genre in Kenya.
Pete, which premiered in January on M-Net’s Maisha Magic East, is the latest Swahili telenovela in Kenya. Stirring trouble from the beginning, Pete follows the bitter rivalry between two brothers, the older Mbura and the younger Jasiri, as they fight over the coveted leadership ring that will make the wearer the chief of Funzi Island after their father dies before he can name his successor. But that’s not the only trouble brewing in Funzi Island: the mermaids of the island also set their eyes on this leadership ring as it could destroy their existence.
Spend a little time scouring the social media pages of Selina lovebirds Pascal Tokodi and Celestine Gachuhi, and you’ll see how badly fans want these two to be together in real life.
Tokodi and Gachuhi star as the star-crossed lovers Nelson and Selina respectively. And of course, great love stories are never complete without a love triangle. Enter Biko (Peter Kamau, Tahidi High), a worthy opponent for Nelson and a character so good at manipulation that he has won many hearts and divided the unshakable #Selison fandom. Watch now »
If the stories are true, then the coastal town of Mombasa must be a strange place inhabited solely by cat-people. But clearly not strange enough to scare away Swahili telenovela Maza, which weaves an old superstitious tale into its storyline.
Maza follows Kate, a woman whose jealousy and greed get the best of her – so much so that she turns her best friend into a cat and steals her life and everything that comes with it, including her wealth, husband and children.
For this role, Angie Magio, who plays the villain Kate, earned a Kalasha Award nomination for Best Actress in 2018. Watch now »
Straight from Bongo, this Tanzanian telenovela tells the story of two feuding families whose worlds collide in their quest for power. While money and greed become the only solution to their everyday problems, true love is the only thing that can save them.
When asked why he was drawn to star-crossed-romance plotlines in an interview, Selina and Saida director Reuben Odanga had this to say:
“I discovered before I started working on Saida that this angle (star-crossed love) is universal. It appeals to the masses.”
Saida, which is Odanga’s first TV series, follows Saida and Karisa’s forbidden love story and their quest to transcend their families’ long-held hatred for one another, even as battle lines are drawn.
Saida won Best TV Drama at the Kalasha Awards in 2014, making it the first Swahili telenovela directed by Odanga to win a Kalasha. The second was Selina in 2018. Watch now »