We seriously need a Kenyan romcom

We seriously need a Kenyan romcom. Photo | Photosearch


What you need to know:

I would watch this movie to be reminded that this magic still exists, and what it could potentially look like, for someone who looks like me

I want to write a formal complaint to Netflix about how many nonsense romance movies they’re putting out at the moment – but mostly because I want some real life, believable, might-happen-in-Nairobi romance. The most recent one I have seen is ‘A Perfect Pairing.’ I saw ten seconds of the trailer and immediately stopped watching – for one thing, it has that Australian guy from Falling Inn Love with Christina Milian, which was a terrible movie. And it had that really tired, formulaic approach that Hollywood now has towards romance – big town girl gets tired and jaded of her big town job, and somehow decides to move across the country, or to another continent, or somewhere provincial, to find true meaning in the simple things. In her finding of the true meaning, she also somehow finds true love, while endearing herself to the townspeople, who are amazed by her big city talent and grit and also ability to milk a cow. The plot line tends to fall in that general direction.

Maybe instead of whining about Hollywood love stories, I should write something realistic for home, no? The last time I talked about this with a reader girlfriend of mine, she laughed in my face and asked where the romance in Kenya is to even write, because in this economy, we can’t afford it. Ha! And she’s right, of course – stratospheric fuel prices and a hectic election year don’t leave much room for dates and tenderness. Then again, maybe that’s exactly what we need – some good old-fashioned escapism to pull through till 2023.

Just for inventiveness’ sake, I wonder what this movie would look like. Set in the city in the sun, only the place of cool waters is not really cool anymore, nor is it particularly sunny because it is blocked by a giant eyesore of an expressway. Maybe that’s how they meet each other – campaigning for the expressway to use fake flowers instead of real flowers, so that they don’t cost the taxpayer more money. Or, fighting to get to a toll because they’re both late to get to a flight that’s going to a wedding out of town. They compete heatedly at the barrier, and eventually he gets through and obnoxiously waves as he passes. Turns out they’re on the same plane – sat next to each other (we can keep the out-of-town bit). They ignore each other the whole way to Lamu (a dhow ride will make you fall for someone, easy-peasy) and then when they land, their mutual friend picks them up at the airport. They’re going to the same wedding! Sheesh! Now they can’t ignore each other, and the festivities have begun. During a wedding party game of truth or dare, she discovers that he’s been hurt badly before, and she starts to feel empathy towards the bastard who cut her off in toll traffic – but she doesn’t want to show it, because she isn’t ready for anything serious, because she dated…his cousin. Too much? Ok, dial it back – she’s scared of love because she’s seen how crazy it makes people, including the two getting married. She thinks it looks ridiculous, and makes a fool out of people, and she is nobody’s fool, you know. She’s a strong independent Nairobi babe with an Instagram store that’s doing super well. Their two opposite outlooks on love is what makes them come together – he’s scared of the past, and she’s scared of the future. Weuwee!

I would actually watch this movie to support the local industry, of course, but also to be reminded that this magic still exists, and what it could potentially look like, for someone who looks like me. Isn’t that what romcoms are supposed to do – give you hope in something that you’ve been told you can’t find on Tinder or in real life? I think we all need a little – ok, a lot – more romance and whimsy in our lives, even if it’s only for an hour and a half…


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