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Shamba La Wanyama Cancelled: State Overreach or Marketing Gimmick?

In a bid to solicit answers to the banning of her show, creator Serah Mwihaki may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag: “Head over to Viusasa and judge for yourself.”



“The only medicine for tyrants and strongmen,” proclaimed Okiya Omtatah Okoiti at the beginning of January in a video that went viral, “is to fight them back; they must be resisted by all means.” The Busia senator was reacting to Kenya Kwanza’s unwarranted attack on the Judiciary. “I therefore add my voice to those who have come out to strongly condemn His Excellency President William Samoei Ruto’s recent, most unfortunate, reckless, unwarranted, ill-informed,  misguided, immature, unhinged, unnecessary, barbaric, satanic, and, without a doubt, unconstitutional attacks on the Judiciary,” said a visibly shaken Omtatah. Shaken because in December he had alleged, quite sensationally, that his life was in danger. “They” were coming for him.

And then on Sunday 11 February 2024, something peculiar happened: Kenyans gathered around their TV sets to watch a much-anticipated show that was never to be. The popular and much-hyped series Shamba La Wanyama was inexplicably redacted. Citizen TV, without so much as an explanation, pulled the airing, leaving more than a few enthusiasts gobsmacked. Shamba La Wanyama, based loosely around George Orwell’s Animal Farm, is a social critique of the ubiquitous religious establishment that preys on despairing and unsuspecting members of society with lofty promises of quick fixes to all problems, from upended and desperate financial circumstances to divine healing. So, what is the golden thread that knits together these two seemingly diametric episodes?

“Since the independent Judiciary in Kenya is under attack by the Kenya Kwanza government, I am sure that their next target will be our free press,” concluded Okiya Omtatah. “And that should concern every Kenyan.” And many Kenyans think the government is behind the banning of Shamba La Wanyama. But what’s at stake for the government? Observers have clinched that the show is a wake-up call to Kenyans, an eye-opener to the excesses of government and the social order in general.

The storyline of Shamba La Wanyama, which is adapted contra the church, revolves around a prosperity gospel preacher who assumes the role of a revered church leader. It was inspired by a personal experience where the creator’s mother sought help from religious leaders and shunned scientific medicine. Bearing all the hallmarks of a good story, it speaks to the truth of society. But the truth does not always provide comfort. The church was quick to clap back at the message of the show, which makes observers point a second accusing finger at the church.

“The more censored the content,” discerned one X user, “the more intrigued we are to know why. Post it here or on YouTube. Free thinkers we will be there.” In light of the show’s allusion to the clergy’s complicity, everyone can see why it’s bad for business. But is the clergy in Kenya really that powerful? “Watakosa pesa za those live churches on Rauka show,” determined another user.

According to the show’s writer and producer Serah Mwihaki, it’s all a conspiracy. “Want to know why [Shamba La Wanyama was cancelled]? Head on to Viusasa and watch it, then make your own conclusions,” she wrote on her X. “I think it’s an important story. Some powerful people think it shouldn’t be told. I say follow the money, who’s likely to lose money if many people watch Shamba and question what’s happening?” And then she provides a Viusasa link for the show. And therein methinks lies the crux: courting controversy to market Shamba La Wanyama. Citizen and Viusasa (a PPV platform, mind) are both owned by RMS. So why not ban the show entirely if indeed a decision was made to ban it?

To get to the bottom of the confusion, we must now employ the scientific method, which begins with a broad base of knowledge, an understanding of the facts and contours of the problem, and then filling in present observations. And the facts are these: Shamba La Wanyama was beginning to gather momentum and a large following. This represents an opportunity. The show, we are told, was a source of discomfiture in some quarters.

Societal evils, surreptitiously orchestrated in the name of God, are being exposed willy-nilly. Inexplicably, and to everyone’s consternation, it was cancelled after just one airing. Someone must have ordered it off-air. Here, we have three possible culprits: the state, the clergy, and Citizen TV. Among these, who stands most to gain by Shamba La Wanyama being taken off air? (Mind you, not “banned” to the public altogether.)

In the first two instances, if the show really is as offensive as is being bandied about, then leaving it running on Viusasa completely defeats the purpose. Which leaves the third. A recent study by Consumer Insight found that Citizen TV is far and away the most-watched station in the country. Now, considering that Viusasa is a PPV streaming service owned by the same owners of Citizen, a veritable cash-cow-in-waiting desperately in need of subscribers (read conversion), does creating a storm in a teacup to funnel enthusiasts into the platform, ostensibly out of “curiosity”, work in the best interest of RMS or does it not? To whit, why watch Shamba La Wanyama for free when you could pay for the convenience? You be the judge.

In a bid to solicit answers to the banning of her show, creator Serah Mwihaki may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag: “Head over to Viusasa and judge for yourself.” Follow the money, she advised. The state and the clergy, you will likely find, are blameless after all.

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