ONLINE JURY IN AN ERA WHERE CRIME IS NOT PUNISHED IN NAIROBI. TUKO MACHO RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT WHO IS LOOKING OUT FOR YOU
TUKO MACHO, A KENYAN WEB SERIES, EXPLORES CURBING LAWLESSNESS WITH VIGILANTISM
SPOILER ALERT: Tuko Macho is a great web show produced by Kenyans and I’m about to tell you some of the things about it. If you don’t want for me to spoil it for you, click here and watch it yourself. The show has seen a lot of success already, with more than 100 thousand people tuning in online every week. The success of Tuko Macho has led to it’s nomination to feature in the Toronto International Film Festival, (TIFF), that kicks off Sept 8th to Sept 18th in Toronto, Canada.
The scene is Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. That is where Tuko Macho, a vigilante web series is based upon. Tuko Macho, Kiswahili phrase meaning We are watching, is a fascinating Kenyan web series exploring the out-of-control crime wave in Nairobi where criminals roam around unchallenged by police and in some cases seem to operate in cohorts with police. The series are unique as they explore real-life issues of law and order in Kenya in a well-produced show recorded in Sheng, the Kiswahili slang in Kenya that mixes Kiswahili and English. The mastery of the actors and the scene-setting are perfect for the show and easily creates suspense and advances the story-line.
The show is built on the premise of an ordinary man, Biko, turns vigilante to tackle the rampant crime and corruption that allows lawlessness to fester in Nairobi. In a unique form of justice, the vigilantes identify people who have harmed the community and gives the public and opportunity to decide their fate by voting online whether they are guilty or not guilty.
In the first episode, Charlo, a pistol-weilding ruthless carjacker, is caught by the vigilantes while in the process of carjacking his victim and loading him in the trunk (boot) of his car with an inference of intentions to kill him. In the process of moving his victim out of the car to the trunk, sling (Feya) carrying vigilantes shoot rocks at Charlo hitting him and causing him to lose his pistol. The stunned Charlo loses control of the situation and when he raises his head he faces two men. He asks if they are police with hopes they are in fact police.
“Karao?” (Are you the police?) Charlo asks while on the ground holding his hand hit by the sling shot and hoping they are cops. “Karao Mamako,” (Your mother’s police) one vigilante responds with a popular Kenyan “yo mama” insult. “Wewe nani?” (Who are you?) Charlos asks with a bewildered look at realizing that his assailants are not police. “W
ewe ni karao unapenda, sindiyo?” (you wish we were cops, right?) the lead vigilante whose face is out of camera shot says as a matter-of-fact. “Sisi ni wale wa danger.” (We are much worse) Charlo’s face falls when he learns they’re not the police. This is a great line because it attempts to justify the existence of the vigilantes and implies police are permissive of crimes and are not protecting people
Charlo is transported, head bagged to secret location where a woman who appears to be the brains behind the operation asks if everything went according to plan. This part is cool because it shows a shift in the masculine Kenyan culture empowering a woman to play a key role for a series that seems to have a lot of potential.
Charlo is placed on what appears to be an electric chair while his case is posted online in an encrypted file, the case is presented with evidence of eight in
cidents where Charlo is caught on video carjacking victims and murdering some of them. His case is placed to a vote and an overwhelming 95 percent vote him guilty and he is sentenced to death.
Before he is killed by lethal injection, Charlo talks about the struggles of his life, how his mother worked hard and honestly as a cloth washer for people but would not make ends meet. He proclaims the irony of a city where the city seems to be prospering, fancy restaurants, upscale supermarkets, taller buildings and many other signs of wealth, yet people like him lingered in poverty with no hope of every getting ahead in life except through crime. He challenges the vigilantes that their work and killing him would not change anything in the city as there are many many more criminals like him who are created every day.
This is expressed in a dramatic computer disguised male vote with an ominous song playing in the background.
“Nairobi, watu 63 wamevote Charlo awachiliwe, watu 1,169 wamevote ahukumiwe, Charlo, Nairobi imeamua, umehukumiwa kifo.”
The flaw of the show is every accused, regardless of their crime, is put up to be punished by death and that raises the fundamental question that undermines vigilantism as a means of combating crime.
This is a production The Nest Collective starring Tim King’oo, Njambi Koikai and Ibrahim Muchemi. According to their website new episodes are posted every Thursday.
The show contains graphic images and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.