Country Queen follows a Nairobian event planner who returns to her village after 10 years wherein she confronts her past – and a mining company that threatens to destroy her home. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
Akisa is an event planner in Nairobi, and her company is putting together a big event for Eco Rock, a successful environmental corporation. It turns out that the company’s CEO, Max, is having an affair with Akisa.
Max is also busy trying to recover from being ripped off during a black market gold buy, engineered by his wife Vivienne. He makes excuse after excuse, but Akisa does not want to hear it.
Akisa receives a phone call and needs to go back to Tislanga for the first time in over a decade; she gets a call during the event that her father, Mwalimu is gravely ill. For his part, Mwalimu has been under pressure to sell his land to the local mining concern — who just happens to report to Vivenne — and he refuses to because that’s where his mother is buried.
The reason why Akisa left the village 11 years ago, when she was a teenager, is that Mwalimu and her mother Esther made the tough decision to take Akisa’s baby away from her, in order to give her the chance for a better life.
One of the first things that happens when she reaches the village is that she runs into Kyalo, whom she was devoted to back in the day, and who is likely the father of the child she never saw. She still can’t forgive her father, but is there for him at his most dire moment.
Melissa Kiplagat, playing the role of Akisa — supposedly a very strong person — fails to portray the strength and grit of her character, making it dull to watch the series as majority of the expectations from the viewers falls on the protagonist.
Nini Wacera plays Vivienne and does a decent job at portraying the aggressively cunning woman. Her facial expressions and body language make her character seem more believable.
Melvin Alusa is compelling as Kyalo, who seems to be a good guy facing a huge dilemma. His performance, however, diminishes as the series goes on but keeps the viewers pursued.
The performance of all the actors, when viewed together in one piece, gives a shattered image of the cast. A casting error or genuine lack of skills, the performance of the cast fails to recognise the depth of the themes explored in Country Queen.
Child labour is explored with the association of Marxism. It is observed that two young boys, each defend and question child labour in their own way, in front of an elder.
He speaks about capitalism and Karl Marx. His phrase, “We won’t solve social imbalance today,” perfectly encapsulates the essence of the show.
Throughout the series, an abundance of themes has been provided to the audience. Themes of forgiveness, redemption, betrayal, love, power hunger and obsession were covered extensively.
Characters mostly have surface-level emotions, as their backstories aren’t heavily hinged. This leads to a lack of connection with the characters.
While exploring themes in abundance, the series fails to deliver a structured storyline and proper dialogues.
The acting with the dialogue delivery does not live up to the standard of quality the series tries to achieve. Not even the main characters manage to live up to these expectations.
The series can be preferred for its sheer portrayal of Kenyan people, a representation of whom the world has rarely seen, while others will watch it due to its simplicity in discussing heavy themes that not most shows cover nowadays. However, Country Queen does not live up to the expectation, given its themes and representation. The lack of a good storyline and poor performances makes the series tedious to get through.