BY MAGGIE WALTER
We all love a good love story; a good telenovela.
The Selina series on Maisha Magic East, a Swahili telenovela, is a shift from the so many Mexican soap operas that have been flooding our screens for the past few years.
I look at this shift as a bonus point for Selina. Clearly, this is something genuinely Kenyan and its roots sink in the Swahili language. (Literally, the show is in Swahili).
Selina’s original story by Vivek Bahl, its director being Reuben Odanga.
At the beginning of the very first episode, we see an elated and cheery Selina (Celestine Gachuhi) running to meet up with his father and give him news on her passing her Form 4 exams.
Looking at Celestine Gachuhi’s character Selina, she outright sends us a vibe of a kind, hardworking, naive lady.
Why kind? Well she apparently had been helping an old woman who had been quiet unwell.
Why naive? Her uncle under consideration, who makes her believe that she should go meet up with her stepmother Kristina, played by Victoria Mzenge, before she meets up with her father as she originally intended — completely clueless that her uncle and step-mother do not have her best interests at heart.
Kristina is clearly our modern-day version of Cinderella’s evil step mother. She completely hates Selina, specifically her relationship with her father Zakayo, and Selina passing her Form 4 exams does not change her regard towards her.
It makes her completely mad, considering the fact that her very own daughter had failed miserably.
We therefore see her scheming to kill Selina’s dreams of ever continuing with her studies.
The telenovela’s “evil stepmother” plot has been quite overused and it somehow comes off as a cliché.
I, however, feel there’s the necessity of a good telenovela having its villains and good people.
So, I’d call the evil step mother stance a necessary cliche, mainly because it pushes to make Selina more interesting.
Marembo flower farm, owned by a rich family called the Mackenzies, has been going down the drain.
Not bringing in as much profit, this makes Patricia Mackenzie, played by Hellen Keli. I feel like they should do away with the business.
This is the same flower farm that Selina’s father gets his source of livelihood.
Patricia, therefore, sends his son to go check on the business before coming to any conclusion.
At this point we meet Nelson, played by Pascal Tokodi.
He clearly radiates the “prince charming” vibe ready to save a damsel in distress, in this case Selina.
They meet under really compromising conditions, which involves Selina splashing a bucket of dirty water at him (wink, boy meets girl).
Does the show make you want to check out the next episode and the next?
I’d say yes, regardless of the fact you might think the plot is somehow cliché.
It still gets you glued. The characters are really strong and I would definitely go for a scheming Kristina, a kind Zakayo, a naive Selina any day any time.
The first episode allows you to give the show a chance by looking at the growth of its characters. Selina is a show that needs to be unpacked slowly.
There’s obviously a huge contrast between it and Maza or Aziza — though, given a chance, it’s worth it.