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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.




… 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:




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