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Kenyan series ‘Country Queen’ to premiere on Netflix

Netflix has announced that its first Kenyan licensed branded series, Country Queen, will begin streaming on the service from July 15, 2022.

This is following the successful showcases of Nigerian series Blood Sisters and Savage Beauty from South Africa, each having explored unique cultural and contextual thematics from those African audiences.

Country Queen is set in contemporary Kenya, and has been labelled a family drama series that tells the story of ordinary Kenyans fighting against a corporate power that threatens to destroy their homes and lives.

With a seasoned and star-studded cast, including Nini Wacera, Melvin Alusa and Blessing Lung’aho, the series will focus on the issues of land grabbing and exploitation, and how these factors impact the lives and relationships of the main characters, their families and communities.

Directed by Tosh Gitonga and filmed in parts of Nairobi, Machakos County and Murang’a County, the series stars Melissa Kiplagat as Akisa, a woman from a sleepy village who now leads a comfortable but complicated life in the city.

Her dark past and complex relationship with the powerful and ruthless Sibala family sets in motion a string of events with rippling consequences. It’s a thrilling tale that shows what happens when the past and present collide.

“We’re excited to bring this authentic Kenyan story to our viewers around the world. More than 222 million entertainment fans will get the opportunity to experience Kenya’s talent and creativity with Country Queen,” said Nkateko Mabaso, Netflix’s Director of Licensing in Africa.

“The MOU we signed with the Kenyan government in April signaled our intention to meaningfully contribute to Kenya’s creative community and through this title, we want to show – not just tell – how committed we are to making sure Kenyan stories find a place to shine on a global stage.”

Featuring a language mix of English and Swahili, Country Queen also explores themes such as rural-urban conflict, inter-family relationships, betrayal, love and commitment, as well as the intersection of tradition, leadership, culture and capitalism. A prevailing theme of the show is also the pursuit of ambition in the face of loyalty to tradition and cultural history.

In the last two years, Netflix has invested into the Kenyan entertainment industry with local movie scene making tremendous strides. With magnificent places and good weather, Kenya has always been seen as an excellent destination to shoot movies.

This has seen various Hollywood movies such as Lion King shot here. However, the local movie scene was somewhat struggling until this year. Here are some of the movies recently been shot, directed and produced in Kenya that premiered on Netflix.

Disconnect – Initially released in April 2018, Disconnect is a comedy, romance movie written by Natasha Likimani and Silas Miami, with Tosh Gitonga, best known for his work in Nairobi Half Life, as Director. It boasts huge names in the local acting scene, such as Brenda Wairimu, Nick Mutuma, Bridgette Shighadi, Catherine Kamau, Pascal Tokodi, Pierra Makena, Patricia Kihoro, Brian Ogola, Arthur Sanya, Aseem Sharma, Justin Mirichii and Illya Frank. The film is an R-rated romcom that explores millennial relationships in fast-paced Nairobi. Viewers well-received the movie, and with a great plot twist, it was a change from the regular scripting that we are used to.

40 Sticks – This thriller movie premiered on Netflix in November 2021. The film revolves around a group of death row prisoners whose prison bus crashes in a forest on a rainy night. The inmates then find themselves battling wild animals and a mysterious killer. Created and produced under director Victor Gatonye, the movie was shot in Nairobi across five locations over a 16-day shoot period in February 2019.  The star-studded cast includes Robert Agengo, who has acted in numerous Kenyan and international films, and Xavier Ywayais, known from the Real Househelps of Kawangware, that aired on KTN. The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) officially rated the film 16.

Sincerely Daisy – The movie was produced and directed by Nick Mutuma with a cast that includes Foi Wambui, Ella Maina, Brian Abejah and Mbeki Mwalimu. Daisy (Ellah Maina) is the main character in the one-and-a-half-hour long movie. She plays a talented urban girl who has big dreams of being an actress after excelling in her final year of high school examinations. However, things take a sad turn when it becomes apparent that her dreams of studying abroad could be shattered because her family cannot afford to pay for it.

Poacher – The movies revolves around issues on illegal ivory trade and was filmed in Tsavo West National Park. The Kenyan/British short film tells the story of a daring farmer who steals illicit ivory from a group of international terrorists and must elude their dangerous and deadly games. It won the Best Short Film award at the 8th Kalasha TV & Film Awards and bagged nominations for the Best Director, Best Director of Photography, Best Supporting Actor in a Film and Best Actor in a Film.