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All posts by Nduta Kinyanjui



mental health is severely underfunded

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES made its African debut right here in Nairobi Kenya at the Signature auditorium in Westlands. Created in 2019 by Zachary Burton and Elisa Hofmeister, The Manic Monologues was brought to Kenya by Shalini Bhalla – Lucas, author, TEDx Speaker, presenter and the executive producer, who became passionate about mental health due to the stigma that surrounded the topic. She discovered this as a result of her first mental breakdown and having clinical depression.

In a quest to create awareness to the state of mental health in the country, a lot of discoveries were made. Mental health is the real pandemic in this country, with the government allocating only KShs 15/= per person to mental health. More stigma comes from religious institutions believing the best solutions to mental health problems is prayer or exorcism. More stigmatization comes from the ignorance in our society where by, a person with mental health issues is approached with so much aggression rather than the fragility that they deserve.

With the efforts a few enthusiastic individuals, the show was brought to us by Shalini Bhalla – Lucas and Amar Vidyarthi as the executive producers and Karishma Bhagani as the producer.  Speaking at The Signature Auditorium during the industry night premier, Shalini shared that mental health is severely underfunded.

“I put 20,000$ into funding the project and I am going to lose about 8000$. What I believe is that government and corporates need to start coming in by funding the arts as well as mental health programs. The choice in location was very intentional given the intimate nature of the subject, but that also means that not much money will be made from ticket sales hence venues also need to subsidize. I would love to be able to create more awareness on Mental Health through The Manic Monologues but that would mean that I sit with people who are willing to put money into the art because theatre in itself is an expensive art.”

Mugambi Nthiga, (Lusala) The director, described the experience of working on the show as cathartic. Mugambi has suffered from depression before but he says “being able to come up with the words and to find the vocabulary to tell these stories as we created the show was a wonderful experience. Working with the actors was very intense so it was really important for us to be there for each other, be each other’s safe spaces as these stories are drawn from real life experiences.”

“I found the experience fascinating, there’s a statement that goes, ‘you don’t remember what a person said to you, you remember how it made you feel.’ Therefore, when acting something like The Manic Monologues, you have to recollect those memories and some of them stem from our childhoods.”  Vikash Pattni, is an actor, radio presenter and emcee. He worked alongside other stars like: Nyokabi Macharia (County 49), Wakio Mzenge (County 49), Nick Ndeda (18 Hours), Elsaphan Njora, (Sense Eight), Charles J. Ouda (How To Have An Affair-A Cheater’s Guide), Auudi Rowa(Salem), Julisa Rowe (Spread Your Garment Over Me).

Was it difficult for the actors to trigger their mental trauma you wonder? Wakio Mzenge, shares that, “As an actor, there’s a technique I use whereby I disconnect my personal experiences from the character. I create a character in collaboration with the director and allow the character to live their authentic lives without drawing from my own experiences because my emotional frequency and the character’s emotional frequency are on different levels.”

From the perspective of the audience, the experience was extremely triggering for some and it awakened a lot of emotions that were maybe buried deep. Some of them let their tears speak for what they were feeling and others did mention that they were going to ‘unpack’ at home. The production understood the magnitude of the impact the show was going to make therefore a therapist was an essential part of the experience. Olive Ndiang’ui, runs Prometheus Kenya who were the official Mental Health and Counseling partners for The Manic Monologues providing counsel to the team during rehearsals, as well as the audience during the show.

THE MANIC MONOLOGUES communicates to a significant number of the public and if the right kind of support is offered, more could be educated.




The audience thoroughly loved her humor and the flawless delivery of her two part narration…

Most of our lives are spent in front of a screen and we can’t help but applaud the technology and the connectivity through our devices. Chances are, a lot of people get tired and a good icebreaker is getting out there and interacting with a live audience at a live show and I believe we like to hear real life experiences from Key players in the industry.

THE SIDE CHICK WIFE was a live storytelling show, performed by Dr. Zippy Okoth (PhD), a performing artist, producer, director, actor and a lecturer of theatre and arts. She is currently a senior lecturer at KCA University.

Put together by FILM LAB and performed at the KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE auditorium, the show was a two part performance that gave us two perspectives of her life. One side told us how she navigated her relationships from her young days as a campus student in MASENO UNIVERSITY to how she got married and divorced to moving into a marriage like situation ship ‘come we stay’ that ensured her character was well developed for dealing with relationships from then on. On the second part we see Zippy evolve into a more self-aware mature woman who knows what’s best for her.

Live stories often reveal the truths of who we really are. They make the storyteller vulnerable by airing out the unspoken and making fun of otherwise cringe moments. Audiences crave authenticity and that is what they compensate for. THE SIDE CHICK WIFE was one that many could relate to in so many levels. Alert listeners noticed that it touched on so many sensitive topics; marriage traditions and expectations, friendship, cheating, death, loss, grief, therapy, childbearing, parenting and so much more. The one thing that Zippy was able to do was to share with the audience from her real life experiences and how she dealt with every situation that came her way.

A question that a lot of people were asking was that, ‘is the story factual or is it tweaked to keep the audience glued?’ but does it really matter if the story was factual or what one really takes away at the end of the whole experience because Zippy was absolutely incredible, the audience thoroughly loved her humor and the flawless delivery of her two part narration. She is a true story teller that accommodates different styles to her performance and the fact that it was mostly comical, the emotional dive is what makes THE SIDE CHICK WIFE a reflection of real life.

It was a one woman show that was engaging, decorated with very subtle lighting and minimal stage design that absolutely worked for the style of performance.




the mockery that is in the political scenes of our daily lives…

This article aims to discuss John ‘J J’ Jumbi’s style of political satire as an alternative to political discussion. He packages political messages in a comic and contemporary way but still evokes political awareness. In this dramaturgy, IRREGARDLESS vol. 2 employs, sub-plots, different settings, irony, movement, spectacle and many other elements to provoke political conversations.

Irregardless vol. 2 was staged for the very last time on Sunday, 25th September, 2022 at The Braeburn Theatre, Gitanga road. After the success of IRREGARDLESS 1, it was inevitable to bring back volume 2 with the same team.

Produced by Hawi Oguna, he says that after such a long time away, Irregardless brings back something that they as Chatterbox production, hold very dear and that is their audience. Hawi has had an incredible team work behind him comprising of; Mercy Wangui (stage manager), Tugi Waiyaki (Production manager), Seth Guya (choreographer) and many more who came in as partners.

The show has featured veteran actors as well as young and upcoming vibrant actors. Amina Hussein, click- click bang, Ashley Wahu, Just One Bite, Daisy Temba, Esther Kazungu, Papa Shirandula, Faiz Francis Ouma, Sincerely Daisy, Ivy Wangui Muiruiri, Sungura, Ibrahim Muchemi, Godfrey Hinga, Kelvin Kasyoki, Lorna Lemi, Kibue Wambui, Mary Mutheu, Martin Kigondu and Ywaya Xavier, 40 Sticks.

Music is another important aspect that carries the show to the end as it is used as a transitional element from scene to scene and mood changes. Paul Mbithi, the music director has worked with other performers to create powerful and comical renditions of commonly known tunes. The music has also been used as a time buy out and we all know that time management is an essential part of staging plays. Mbithi has worked in collaboration with, Steve Homes, Wanjira Mathai, Destiney Njeri, Dianarose Nyawira, Michelle Wanjiku, Jodi Jubi and Joy Ocholla.

JJ has used settings in our social spaces where politics is meant to find you without you having to look for it; The Church, our schools and even social media trends.

I happened to walk in on a class scene where the cast were using placards to emphasize on how a politician works in order to ensure that the citizens are on their side. There is a lot of use of symbolism on the empty promises that are now very obvious.  The actors use their voices well to mock well known leaders but also in a clever fashion to package a message of what not to do in the next regime.

The spectacle also goes a long way in ensuring that the message in IRREGARDLESS is home. We see it in the mood changes created by the lighting of the different scenes which very creatively and seamlessly change.

Jumbi also uses Juxtaposition to emphasize on the mockery that is in the political scenes of our daily lives. The rising action is, a foot soldier is murdered and during the burial, there is a leader being inaugurated into power. What better way to remind you that LIFE GOES ON IRREGARDLESS. A satirical masterpiece.




… This is not the kind woman to mess around with…

A lot of things are happening in this episode and coming from a very heroic act by Saji, DERRICK KINYANJUI, we are quickly reminded that it was just one save and there’s still more to be done. It is in this episode that we witness Sinjin, MARTIN GITHINJI and his team almost save the day for the very first time since the chaos began.

Saji is devastated because of the things he had to do to save his parents, his character has been tainted. His mother, Debra, NYOKABI MACHARIA (Country Queen) wants Malik, PETER KAWA (Escape to Mogadishu)  to take them home but Malik still has hero business to do. He wants to save the governor, Nerimah Mkung, WAKIO MZENGE (Selina) who is about to be killed by Elijah, JAMES WEBBO. Malik does not realise that needing to be the hero in every situation will cost him, in fact, sooner rather than later. Debra tries to convince him otherwise but it is in his nature to save people. It is who he is. This particular act will bring pain in his family as they are about to experience loss for the first time.

Elijah on the other hand has made it known that, the governor dies. He plans to off her by hanging, but we do not expect the strong, resilient, Governor Nerimah Mkung to go down without a fight, that just wouldn’t be her. We see her tackle the Mighty Elijah in one flip and we are once again reminded that this is not the kind woman to mess around with. Malik shows up to help her out but unfortunately all efforts go to waste when the governor is shot. Everyone panics.

In the office of the governor, everyone is uneasy, all for different reasons. The cabinet Secretary, CS Mudanga, ABEL AMUNGA (Sense 8) has decided to pay the office a visit and the acting deputy governor, Chris Komu, MAQBUL MOHAMMED (Varshita) is not ready to meet him. Of course by now we know he was the suspected mole and we love to see how he deflects when he is not in control. He pretends to be concerned about the governor but he also wants her to die. This is in an effort to draw attention away from the stolen money. The CS has made it clear that the purpose of his visit is to retrieve the 4B that was given as ransom in exchange for the governor.

Now my concern for this episode and the people of Bwatele is the police. Why are they doing things anyhow? Sinjin especially. I understand that he wants to be virtuous by letting go of the young goons, but who is supposed to be making arrests, who is going to hold them accountable and ensure they don’t go right back into crime much less giving the bad guys updates on where they are? Why are we not seeing people being brought in for questioning? Why is Sinjin depending on Malik for information? There’s just something about this particular police force that is not making sense.

The next episode promises more action as the big fish is now free and we have a lot of anticipation for his NEXT BIG MOVE.




We see a confused government and disorganized police force lose everything in plain sight…

Let me tell you something, we are dealing with people who know exactly what they are doing when it comes to ensuring that their audience will always want more. KIBANDA PICTURES, the production house behind the successful SHOWMAX original Series COUNTY 49, have worked with the best of the best in producing the latest episode, THE DECOY.

As usual, MERCY MUTISYA never disappoints when it comes to writing. The Governor’s office decides to pay full ransom as demanded by THE HIVE. What could possibly go wrong when everything and everyone is doing exactly what is required of them? The transaction of course. We see a confused government and disorganized police force lose everything in plain sight. This goes ahead to show how deeply rooted THE HIVE is and just how weak and fragile the police department is.

This episode confirms what we’ve been suspecting all along. There’s a mole on the government. What Likarion Wainaina (Super Modo) has done is that he has led us to suspect every other person in the governor’s office but the real culprit. The writing, Directing, cinematography and acting is just a complete mind game to mess with the expectations of the audience.

First of all, hands down to MAQBUL MOHAMMED’S (Varshita) incredible acting skills. He plays Chris Komu, he is left in charge of the office of the governor, Okusimba Sibi, AINEA OJIAMBO (Kina) when the governor is arrested and the deputy/acting governor, Nerimah Mkung, WAKIO MZENGE (Selina) is abducted. Chris manages to fool everyone into thinking they are the problem and he does so successfully as he orders a very high level arrest.

However the hero of this episode is Saji, DERRICK KINYANJUI, a young boy desperate to save his parents Malik Maka, PETER KAWA (Uradi) and Debra Maka, NYOKABI MACHARIA (Maepress) who got caught up in the chaos between the government and the people of BWATELE.  He is the shining example of an underestimated hero that no one sees coming. We appreciate this for his character, but what next? Will they manage to get back home?

One thing about Bwatele is that anything can happen between being saved and the trip home. What happens to governor Nerimah? Who will run to her rescue cause now the office of the governor has made it clear to prioritise the lost billions. The next episode will be out and up on SHOWMAX in a few days and I can’t wait to see how things pan out eventually.




This is an action packed show but the action from the police is conspicuously missing…

This is exactly what we needed, more drama. The third episode of COUNTY49 has been excellently written by Martin Kigondu bringing forth some of the issues that we didn’t entirely understand.

The County of Bwatele is still in chaos. The acting governor, NERIMAH MKUNG, Wakio Mzenge, Selina, and her chief of staff are still in captivity and everybody is trying to find them. The previous episode introduced us to JUNIOR, Emmanuel Mugo, Mission to Rescue, who as we come to understand is the one funding the riots. He is the governor’s son meaning that governor, OKUSIMBA SIBI, Ainea Ojiambo, Kina is also involved. Now we know the reason behind the very meaningful nod to Junior, immediately after his arrest.

PETER KAWA, Malik Maka, County 49

MALIK MAKA, Peter Kawa, Christmas Love, on the other hand is not going to rest until he finds his wife, DEBRA MAKA, Nyokabi Macharia, Country Queen. In the process of doing so, he discovers some deep dark secrets that he apparently wasn’t supposed to know. It gets more exciting. He cheated on his wife!!! That’s why she wants a divorce so bad. This will however not deter him from trying to save the mother of his son.

Malik tries with all his knowledge, given by his enemy to get clues on how to save Debra and Nerimah but he falters slightly and gives away his weaknesses to his enemy. Now the enemy has leverage against him even though he manages to get to Debra.

Debra gets a call from home. Her son, SAJI, Derrick Kinyanjui, is in danger, by the very people that held her hostage but now she is free. She has got to be angry and someone has got to be on the receiving end of her rage. We are so ready to see mama bear in action.

I am however bothered by one SINJIN, Martin Githinji, Sue na Johnny, the chief of security and how he his handling his power and the people at his disposal. I understand from the beginning that he and Malik are not anywhere near friends but why wouldn’t he send back up every time he asked especially since they have a shared interest? I am not feeling the urgency that would be required of someone with his job status. I feel like the only command he gives is to stand down. Why is he not using his police for this mission? Why are they standing in a camp in the middle of nowhere and not following the leads given to them, fast? Where are his priorities? Who is he trying to protect, his tent, or the governor?


This is an action packed show but the action from the police is conspicuously missing.




All our questions are not entirely answered but, the writer has given us a person of interest...

Always leave your audience yearning for more to keep them coming back. Kibanda Pictures has mastered this very early leaving us with a cliff hanger in the latest episode, written by Mercy Mutisya (A Grand Little Lie) and directed by Likarion Wainaina (Supa Modo) that as soon as you conclude the second episode, you want to know what happens next.

I will confess, no one could have predicted that ending. We started the journey of this story with Elijah, James Webbo, as the villain, little did we know that he was just a minion working for a bigger fish. What could be better than that? In this episode we are introduced to someone that we only saw briefly in the premier episode. He is not an open book, we do not get to hear his voice until the end of the second episode with only one line. The tension in that scene is so heavy it gives you chills. This specific moment answers some of the questions we might have had when the show premiered, like; how does Elijah have so much information about the government? Does he have an informer? Is there a mole in the government?

All our questions are not entirely answered but, the writer has given us a person of interest.

Without giving any spoilers, we go back to where we left on the first episode. The county of Bwatele is under attack and the acting governor, Governor Nerimah Mkung, Wakio Mzenge (Selina) has been abducted alongside her chief of staff, Debra Maka, Nyokabi Macharia (Country Queen). Malik Maka, Peter Kawa (Escape From Mogadishu) , Debra’s estranged husband, cannot sit at home knowing the mother of his son, Saji, Derrick Kinyanjui, needs help, he just has to do something about it, creating room for more action. And boy is there some cool action to die for. Props to stunts coodinator Mickey Maingi (Mission to Rescue, Crime and Justice) and his team.

The government on the other hand is left in chaos and confusion with the minister having a guesswork of decision making trying to keep the acting governor safe and protecting the citizens, something they seem to have significantly forgotten. However, the national government is quick to action, reassuring the citizens that they have everything under control.

Although his grandmother, Kukhu, Scarlet Sakwa, is there with him, Saji, feels left out and alone in the search for his mother and he decides to take matters into his own hands. It is in this episode that we see a sad lonely child whose wish is to have a normal life with both of his parents.

In this episode we experience the growth of some characters, the birth of new ones, as well as death, revealing the mess that is THE HIVE.

Episode 2 teaser:




Historia Filmz managed to put out a home comedy that can keep its audience entertained to the end.

The title Bargain Bride prepares you for some bridal drama. The movie has been written and directed by Alexandros Konstantaras (House of Lungula) and produced by Lizz Njagah (Jane and Abel). The Movie follows the story of a middle aged man, Cornelius, Gerald Langiri (Fundimentals), who wishes to get married to his long-time girlfriend, Nekoye, Stephanie Muchiri (Paa). However, their parents’ dying wish was that his sister, Conjestina, Gerald Langiri, get married first. Cornelius spends most of his time trying to find Conjestina a husband with the help of Muga, Andrew Muthure (Mother in Law), his friend and colleague. They are very unsuccessful and Conjestina finds her one true love without the help of anyone.

As an M-NET original, Bargain Bride was commissioned recently among others as the channel was very new. Historia Filmz had to work with a very tight budget. I may not know the exact number or the estimate but most of it was pulling in favours especially in terms of locations. A very modern setting in the city shot on location in Kileleshwa and the Kenya Film Commission offices that are always available to film makers on weekends for filming purposes. You could say this is one way that the government supports local film makers.

Bargain Bride is a comedy and does try to achieve that aspect in the story, especially since Cornelius loses everything trying to get something for someone else. I would rather talk about the style that was used to achieve the identical twins. Cloning has been used by the excellent skills of one, Maureen Kareithi since the roles of Cornelius and Conjestina have been played by Veteran actor and casting director, Gerald Langiri.

Comedy requires at least some warmth in the mood and what Sebastian Kibocha and Kiama Kariuki have done in terms of lighting and cinematography is instrumental in giving the audience a homey feeling. That accompanied by the set design contributes to the overall look and feel of the film.

With the Limitation of budget and time, Historia Filmz managed to put out a home comedy that can keep its audience entertained to the end.

You can watch the film on Maisha Magic and Showmax.




As Kenyans say ‘Mambo ni mengi, Masaa ndio machache.’

‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,’ as the saying goes. From the Title, this is a film that tells you even before you begin watching, that some hands are about to get bitten and of course such action come with consequences. The Hand That Feeds You, is an Africa Magic Feature directed by Gilbert Lukalia (Mission To Rescue) who takes us through the life of Simon, Robert Agengo(40 Sticks) who tries to rebuild his life after being released from prison. However pressure starts building when the law recruits him to help prosecute the very Syndicate that got him arrested in the first place.

Something that the film has done very quickly is to take us into Simon’s world. He lives in an informal settlement and struggles to make ends meet especially since nobody trusts him for the simple fact that he is an ex-con. The Detective that monitors his life outside, Inspector Ochieng, Allan Oyugi (Lost in Time) does not give him room to breathe as he does not believe Simon has the ability to let go of his old ways.

Simon is desperate to prove himself, not only to the law but also to his wife Brenda, Gloria Moraa (Tahidi High) and young son, Brian, Bradley Mwendwa. His honest hustle as a bodaboda rider is not enough to make his wife happy, his best friend, David, Eddy Mbugua (The Boy who Harnessed The Wind) with whom they have a very complicated relationship, shows up at the nick of time, presenting Simon with a faster way to make more, however, it’s illegal and that is exactly what landed him into prison in the first place. David is very convincing and on top of that he desperately needs money to at least earn his girl’s trust and respect once again. Caught between a rock and a hard place he has no choice but to give in to the temptation of his old ways and fast cash.

The law being on his neck, now wants Simon to out the entire group that he works with. Simons accepts but his only condition is that his best friend is kept out of it. Exactly how this switch from being the hunted to the hunter is not shown very clearly in the film and leaves me a bit confused. His best friend finds out and feels betrayed especially after cutting him out a deal of a job he got him. What David didn’t know is that Simon did it to protect him.  The betrayal comes with a consequence.

As the movie comes to an end, Simon seems to have achieved none of the things he really wanted and we are left on a cliff hanger expecting more. As Kenyans say ‘Mambo ni mengi, Masaa ndio machache.’ I can’t wait for a promising part two and to see how the story pans out.

As we wait, something that greatly stands out in the film is the Music/scoring. Done by Lalela and Audio Networks, it is very authentic and goes very well with the moods of the film as they gradually change.

Generally, a very well executed story that you can watch on Africa Magic or stream on Showmax.

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