Kenya’s Most Influential Fictional Characters in Pop Culture

Article by Lena Anyuolo
Posted: January 29, 2019  

A round-up of fictional characters whose impact locally and internationally has put the the people who created them and portrayed them notable on a global scale and memorable in Kenyan pop culture.

1. Ziki and Kena (Rafiki)


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Kenyans lined up in the hundreds to watch Ziki and Kena’s forbidden love story unfold on the big screen, making it KenyaBuzz’s 4th highest grossing movie in Kenya for 2018; selling more tickets locally than Mission Impossible: Fallout, Deadpool 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in its short one-week theatrical run. Ziki (played by Sheila Munyiva) and Kena’s (Samantha Mugatsia) story was iconic because it was the first Kenyan film to screen at Cannes Film Festival, and a big win for queer love.

2. Makmende


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Makmende became Kenya’s first viral meme back in 2009. He was popularized by Just a Band’s hit song Ha-He and was portrayed by actor Kevin Maina in the accompanying video. Makmende’s character was born from urban lore about a no-nonsense, Chuck Norris-like vigilante who took down anyone that stood in his way. The name “Makmende” is a Sheng iteration of Clint Eastwoods old catchphrase, “Go ahead, make my day”.

3. Jo (Supa Modo)


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Stycie Waweru’s portrayal of Jo, a 9-year-old girl living with a chronic illness warmed the hearts of Kenyans with her infectious personality and resilience. Her performance and that of the supporting cast made Supa Modo Kenya’s entry into the Oscars Foreign Film Category.

4. Oti (Nairobi Half Life)


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Probably one of the most memorable characters in Kenyan film, Oti was the streetwise gangster with a silver tongue (and even quicker hand) in Tosh Gitonga’s 2012 classic, Nairobi Half Life. Maina Olwenya’s character embodied Nairoberry and his performance earned him a nomination for best actor in a supporting role at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2014.

5. Kenya’s League of Extraordinary Grandmas


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Osborne Macharia‘s trio of senior citizens who live lavish lives are probably the most high-concept fictionalized characters of recent memory.  He describes his series as: ”The story of Kenya’s League of Extravagant Grannies who were once corporate and government leaders in the 1970’s but are now retired. They now live the retired high life travelling to exotic and remote areas within Africa to explore, party and enjoy in exclusivity.”

About the author

Lena Anyuolo

Lena is a former KenyaBuzz employee.


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