“Bwatele hoyee!” County 49 episode 1, now streaming on Showmax, ushers in a new female governor, Nerimah Mkung (played by Wakio Mzenge, Selina), who’s eager to challenge the corrupt system that has plagued Bwatele County for years. She steps into office amid great civilian discontent due to the misdeeds of her predecessor, Governor Okusimba (Igiza’s Ainea Ojiambo), who now faces criminal charges, including corruption, abuse of office, and treason.
Passionate, ambitious and filled with remorse for the government’s failures, Governor Nerimah is keen on righting the wrongs done to the citizens of Bwatele County.
Armed with a message of hope, the new governor, against the advice of her cabinet and her security detail, visits Sector 4 at its most volatile moment. See, the deposed Governor Okusimba, even though corrupt, is a man of the people. Outside the Bwatele courtroom, where his final verdict is being delivered, chants of “Okusimba!” fill the air. Even in Sector 4, as Governor Nerimah takes the podium, chants of “Okusimba!” erupt in the crowd. But Nerimah is undeterred. Her speech carries many promises for a new Bwatele but is it too little too late?
Just a few miles away, the Hive, a local terrorist group led by the revolutionary Elijah (James Webbo) assembles. They want what they’re owed. And Governor Nerimah’s message of hope and accountability means nothing to citizens who’ve never benefited from their own county’s wealthy resources.
Elijah delivers an impassioned speech:
“Itakuwaje hii county inatengeneza stima ya kusupply nchi nzima na sisi wenyewe hatuna stima…Itakuwaje sisi tunapanda chakula lakini we cannot even afford kununua hiyo chakula tunapanda. Naskia kuna mwanamke mwingine hapa anajiita governor anakuja kutuzungumzia…nawauliza? Mazungumzo itatusaidia na nini?”
For the Hive, enough is enough!
Also making an appearance in episode one is Nyokabi Macharia, playing Governor Nerimah’s Chief of Staff Debrah Maka. It’s a role that she says took her some time to connect with, as director Likarion Wainaina eased her into it.
“One of the things I was struggling with was that balance between vulnerability and power. There’s a power to vulnerability because vulnerability doesn’t necessarily mean weak. If anything, it means that you’re courageous enough to put yourself out there. It was interesting to have those discussions with Likarion to find that balance for my character and we got there.”
Peter Kawa, in his first role as lead in a TV series, plays disgraced officer Malik Maka. When Governor Nerimah and Debrah – his estranged wife – are taken hostage by the Hive, Malik must do everything to save them.
“I felt the pressure the moment I was cast to play Malik. I remember Likarion called me on the side and asked me, ‘How soon can you get fit?’ so I had to enroll in a gym for a month before filming. I’ve really enjoyed myself. It’s been three months of fun on set. One of the things that stands out is the fact that we had a team that makes it so easy,” Kawa says.
County 49 takes on a new format that hasn’t been done before on Kenyan television – all events throughout the 13 episodes take place over the course of 24 hours.
Watch the launch trailer here:
County 49 is now streaming on Showmax across Africa, with new episodes releasing weekly. The show is also available to Showmax subscribers in the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands and 28 other countries in the diaspora.
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