Swahili seems to be the love language that is working for filmmakers like Reuben Odanga, Lulu Hassan and Daudi Anguka, whose TV shows like Selina, Pete, Kovu and Maria have revived the Swahili telenovela genre in Kenya, and garnered a massive following from keyboard-happy fans who are always eager to share their thoughts and reactions with every episode.
“Choosing Swahili as a language in my storytelling is a way for me to create TV shows that the Kenyan audience can relate to and think of as their own,” Lulu Hassan has told us in the past, sentiments that have been echoed by both Anguka (Pete, Nyanya Rukia), and Odanga (Selina, Saida, Nira) who described the Swahili language as “romantic” and reiterated that the importance of language cannot be ignored, especially if you know who your target audience is.
Looking for a Swahili telenovela to watch on Showmax? Try these five fan-favourites that have everybody talking.
From Maisha Magic Plus, Kovu is a series filled with secrets, mysteries and the good old drama that any telenovela fan would love. At a glance, the Hazes look like the perfect family. They are super rich, and they reside in one of the most palatial homes (a castle really) at the Kenyan coast. But it doesn’t take long before we find out that appearances can be deceiving, and the Hazes are as fractured as any family with secrets and too much money can be. Behind the production of Kovu is Citizen TV power couple Lulu Hassan and Rashid Abdalla.
A Kalasha Awards 2019 nominee for Best TV Drama, Pete is directed by AMVCA-winning director Daudi Anguka (Zilizala). The story 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. Caught in the middle of this battle are the mermaids of the island who have also set their eyes on this leadership ring as it could destroy their existence.
Reuben Odanga’s Selina has no intention of dialing down on twists and turns as it continues to send fans into a frenzy with its current season. In a surprising twist, season 5 sees the villain Messina (played by Kalasha-nominate actress Angie Magio from Maza) form an alliance with Pascal Tokodi’s Nathan – an evil twin to Tokodi’s other character, Nelson. The hit telenovela, which is adapted from the original story by Bollywood’s Vivek Bahl, stars Tokodi and Celestine Gachuhi as star-crossed lovers caught in a tortuous romance.
Produced by Lulu Hassan’s Jiffy Pictures, Maza follows Kate (Angie Magio), 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, Magio earned a Kalasha Award nomination for Best Actress in 2018.
Huba, like Kovu and Maza, is produced by Lulu Hassan and Rashid Abdalla through their production company Jiffy Pictures, which has also given us other Swahili hits such as Aziza, Moyo and Citizen TV’s Maria.
From Maisha Magic 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.