Wednesday March 18 2020

Set in the village of Maweni, Supa Modo is a movie about a little girl who suffers from a terminal disease. PHOTO| COURTESY


Either you watch a movie and get lost in it, or there is really no point.

Kenyan cinema and the players in it have becoming more and more bold as the years go by, and it's a beautiful thing to watch.

Though Tausi and Tahamaki, and shows of that sepia-coloured era, definitely had their place in the shaping of what counts as telling our stories today, there's definitely something to be said for the fact that there is a clear and upward trajectory in the quality and structures of film in this country – draconian laws and incompetent representations aside.

There are countless movies that can be listed side by side as part of the cinematic revolution, but I want to talk about three in particular.

First, Nairobi Half Life, that led to most people's formal introduction to Maina Olwenya, a convincingly thuggish yet winning personality who stole hearts and handbags on screen.

The not-too-new story of a Nairobi underbelly was visceral because it was true, and touching because we had never seen it like this before. It sparked a new wave, ridden by the next movie I speak about – Kati Kati.


Mbithi Masya has always been the guy whose a multifaceted creative, cemented after his joining of Just a Band, Kenya's very own alternative rock star band, and then his active foray into film both pre and post their brief hiatus (yes, we're still waiting. Even Swedish House Mafia is back, guys).

But nothing really showcased his singular talent, in my opinion, as the movie Kati Kati – a tale of the dead stuck between worlds with no directions visible and no understanding of the reasons they are stuck in a sparse purgatory. It was a little off beat, a lot artistic, and a lot of fun – just like the director himself. It was inevitable that this movie would win multiple awards and take him all over the world in the process.

And now, Supa Modo – forged, in part, from one of the minds involved in all three movies. Mugambi Nthiga had an eye-opening role in the first, and helped write the second. He also helped write this one, along with the effervescent Wanjeri Gakuru, Silas Miami and Kamau Wandung'u.

It's not an exaggeration to say that what they wrote is the purest magic I have seen on Kenyan television this year, thus far, and I doubt that record will be beaten.


Set in the village of Maweni, Supa Modo is a movie about a little girl who suffers from a terminal disease.

The type that isn't going to end well. Knowing this, her mother decides to take her back home, so she can spend her last days surrounded by love.

But sitting still and being surrounded is not what Jo – the girl – really wants. In her head, she's a super hero – and eventually, her family decides to make her last saving-the-world dreams come true.

The script is gripping and moving at the same time. It – and the actors – manage to come off as completely believable and fantastical simultaneously. I'm trying to not spoil the best parts, but it is pretty hard not to, and fortunately I'm not that type of girl.

I will say this – Likarion Wainaina's brainchild translates marvellously onto the screen.

The writers did an incomprehensible job of making a movie that's about a little girl, about family, and one of my favourites – a la Black panther – about what community actually means. It's weepy without being far-flung tragic, funny without camp and it's beautiful without using the premise of the story as a crutch.

Did I mention the perfectly selected cast who made the film as Kenyan as it could possibly be, complete with thoughts and prayers, accents and children playing something as simple as soccer on a field?

I don't want to say it is perfect because the critic in me rebel against such sweeping phrases, but it was as close as I've seen thus far.

Luckily, Prestige and Westgate are going to be showing it next week, so I advise you get on this train to a Kenyan story like you've never – truly! - seen it before, in case you couldn't tell from its title.

You will lose yourself in this movie, and you will find yourself again.