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Big battle as politician sues Real Housewives of Nairobi for featuring wife in reality show

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Guests during the relaunch of Showmax in Kenya on May 8, 2024, at Sankara, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

The High court has stopped the producers of “The Real Housewives of Nairobi” reality show and subscription video streaming platform Showmax from airing one of the show’s newest housewives who is married to a politician.

The man wants compensation from the producers of the show and Multichoice – Showmax’s parent company – for filming his wife and family, including children, at his matrimonial home in Lavington, Nairobi, without his approval.

The Sunday Nation cannot name the couple because of the involvement of children.

The politician is demanding damages "for the mental anguish brought to my children" and himself during the filming.

He argues that it amounts to breach of their rights and freedom.

The influential leader told the court that his wife and Young Rich Television Ltd – the production company behind the Nairobi version of Real Housewives show – colluded and began filming matters about his marriage and their children at his home in Chalbi Drive, Lavington estate, without his consent.

Psychological health

In the documents seen by the Sunday Nation, the leader says he was aware that the producers of the show had reached out to his wife in September 2023, proposing that she be part of the cast for the new season, which she agreed.

However, the politician says, he and his wife later agreed that she wouldn't take part in the production of the reality show following an operation she underwent in October 2023 as she was not in good physical, emotional and psychological health.

The couple, through its advocates, informed Young Rich Television Ltd – associated with youthful entrepreneur and TV and film producer Eugene Mbugua – of the decision about the woman not taking part in the reality show.

“The petitioner (politician), however, became aware that the third respondent (the woman) went ahead to participate in the show and had been filming in various locations, including the petitioner’s and third respondent’s matrimonial home on Chalbi Drive,” his lawyers say in the petition.

Aspects of marriage

The politician says he learnt that he had been duped through a December 7, 2023 email sent by Young Rich Television Ltd to his wife’s lawyers, notifying them that she had – through a different law firm – reviewed the contract with Real Housewives of Nairobi producers and began filming, having received payment from those behind the show.

He told the court he was concerned with the filming that required his wife to appear on the production, which inevitably covers aspects of their marriage and those of their children, a matter neither he nor the youngsters had agreed to.

“The filming of the third respondent involves the children with respect to which the petitioner as their father did not and has not consented to,” the politician says in court papers.

“The filming is happening in the petitioner’s and third respondent’s matrimonial home. This is the home in which the children live. This is causing a distraction to the children and is not a suitable and conducive environment for them to live in.”

The politician adds in the petition that he is against the filming in his home because the compound has property and information about himself which he has not consented to being disclosed to and broadcast.

Illustrating claims on infringement to his privacy, rights and freedom by the producers of the show, the politician cites clauses in the contract, which include his wife giving up her legal rights that indemnifies the producers.

“Clause 10 allows first respondent (Young Rich Television Ltd) to make misrepresentation to others and the third respondent during the course of the her participation in the reality show, which misrepresentations may relate to any and all topics of any kind whatsoever for purposes of creating dramatic effect,” he quotes the agreement.

“Clause 11 (f) entitles the first and second respondents to record and air the third respondent's actions and statements while she is talking on the phone and those of others, including the third respondent’s family.”

The recording may be made using hidden devices, including in areas in which a person under other circumstances might have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

On Clause 11 (g) (ii) of the contract, the politician says, the producers are entitled to record and broadcast any other personal information, including medical records about his wife and family.

Clause 18 of the contract between his spouse and the reality show producers, according to the politician’s court documents, takes away his wife’s rights to seek legal redress against the producers.

“Clause 18 of the agreement expressly provides that the third respondent absolutely, unconditionally, irrevocably releases each of the released parties from any and all claims under private and public law (even where such release may be considered to be against public policy and by limiting her rights to make criminal complaints against released parties), actions under private and public law, damages, liabilities, losses, cost and expenses arising out of, resulting from or by reason of her participation in connection with the series on any legal or equitable theory whatsoever,” he argues.

The man also says that on the execution clause of the contract, his wife expressly confirms that she is giving up certain legal rights, including without limiting her right to file a lawsuit in court with respect to any claim arising in connection with the agreement.

Legal remedy

“By committing to the foregoing terms of the agreement, the third respondent has abdicated her duty to seek legal redress in a court of law on her own behalf and/or that of the children, thereby leaving the children and petitioner without a legal remedy under any circumstances,” the papers by the lawyers say.

Opposing the suit by the politician, Young Rich Television argues that the entire claim is fatally and incurably flawed for failing to state the claim with precision or provide evidence of the complaints against the company.

MultiChoice wants the court to remove it from the case, stating that it was improperly joined as it is not the owner of the subject content.

Issuing fresh directions on the suit, Justice Lawrence Mugambi extended conservatory orders he gave on May 6, 2024, restraining Young Rich Television Ltd and MultiChoice from broadcasting, streaming, airing, videotaping, audio taping or filming the politician’s family.

Justice Mugambi further directed the matter to come before the court on July 17 for a ruling date.

The local reality show, which follows the lives of influential women as they navigate their relationships and careers, is developed as a version of the Real Housewives franchise owned by American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate, NBC Universal.

The reality show returned for its second season in May and currently airs on Showmax with reports indicating that it is set for a climax reunion production.