The matatu industry in Nairobi is a lucrative and a colourful one, but it is also an industry riddled with crime and violence, and often accused of colluding with criminal gangs to hijack passengers. It is this dangerous and murky world that Nganya – the gritty Kenyan drama series now streaming on Showmax – taps into.
Created by Rafiki actress Nice Githinji and directed by Bruce Makau (Kina’s Jabali), Nganya is mainly set in Eastlands, a notorious crime hub in Nairobi. The drama series follows the lives of matatu driver Gathee (Ndungu wa Maina, Kina) and his conductor Jamoe (Isaac Kiarie, Nairobi Half Life) as they go about their day to day operations transporting passengers across the city while also caught up in criminal activities in their struggles to make ends meet.
A smooth talker with the ladies but still a devoted family man, Gathee is driven to a life of crime to score some quick money to take his daughter through private school. And Jamoe finds himself indebted to a dangerous street gang who wouldn’t think twice about smashing his knees with a hammer if he doesn’t pay back what he owes.
Making bad decisions one after another, these two soon find themselves entangled with corrupt policemen and powerful drug dealers who answer to even more powerful men. Violence erupts as each party looks to control the criminal underworld, and Gathee and Jamoe are trapped right in the middle of it as they fight not only for their lives but those of their families and friends as well.
Nganya also stars its creator, Nice Githinji, as Malaika, a local prostitute who also doubles as a drug peddler for the very corrupt cop Donga (played by Peter Oruka, Maria). Other cast include Mbeki Mwalimu (Sincerely Daisy, Selina) as Gathee’s loyal wife Mamu and Tim King’oo (Tuko Macho) as the fur-obsessed drug dealer Moss, while Ywaya Xavier, who embodied Tom Mboya in the highly successful 2019 edition of Too Early for Birds, plays Moss’ right hand man.