‘Ua la kijijini, mwiba mjini’: A Swahili proverb that loosely translates to ‘a flowery village beauty, becomes a thorn of the city’. This is exactly what Maisha Magic East’s new telenovela, Selina, is all about. What happens when a beautiful but naïve country girl moves to the big city? One thing that’s for certain is she will find love, but at what cost?
The show follows Selina, a 19-year-old girl, played with adorable frigidity by newcomer Celestine Gachohi. Selina has just finished high school and is ready to join the university. Selina, however, isn’t about to have things easy. Her cruel and manipulative step-mother Kristina sets a plan in motion to have her dreams curtailed. She lies that Selina has failed in her exams, which is enough reason for her not to qualify for university. Luckily, Selina’s dad finds out the truth and vows to enrol her, despite financial woes.
Marembo Flower Farm is one of the most successful farms in the country. The wealthy family that runs it are looking to hire a house help. We get introduced to our leading man Nelson, played by the hunky Pascal Tokodi. He’s the rich spoilt kid of the family. Kristina has an appetite for money and is determined to make a cash cow out of Selina by reminding her of their family’s challenges. So guess who will be joining the staff at Marembo?
This show feels authentically Kenyan because of the use of Swahili. This makes it relatable to a mass audience. There are also funny scenes that will give you that fuzzy feeling. One instance is Selina’s grandmother who laughs at how she eats her sugarcane, never mind that she herself has no teeth. The set design of Nelson’s grand family home looks the part. It offers the show a sophisticated edge. This is complemented by the production which is very high quality.
The story is family-oriented although maybe not as intricately plotted as that of Maza, the other Swahili telenovela airing on Maisha Magic East. The fact that Selina focuses on a burgeoning love between two young, star-crossed characters gives me doubts that it will elevate to the dramatic heights of Maza. Although it’s still too early to tell. The ‘evil step-mom’ plotline also feels cliché.
If you can overlook that tiny blemish, then there’s a lot to unpack and enjoy about Selina; from the high-quality production to the detailed set designs to the stellar casting and convincing all-around acting. And not forgetting the biggest hook, the heart-warming love story at the centre of it all.
Make sure to catch Selina on Maisha Magic East every Monday to Friday at 7:30 EAT on DStv Channel 158 or GOtv Channel 4.
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