Zuku’s modern political drama State House hugely popular in Kenya


State House, an original modern political drama fictionally set in the President’s
official residence in Kenya, was produced by Nairobi-based Zuku, the Wananchi
Group’s triple play and pay TV business, and goes beyond the façade of political
power, creating an intimate view of the workings behind it, both political and

Likened to international series West Wing and British period drama Downton
Abbey, as the show concerns itself with the President’s household and the
different kinds of power that exist within it, State House is proving to be
immensely popular with Kenyan viewers.

Says Hannelie Bekker, Managing Director of Wananchi Programming: “Kenyans
are fascinated with politics and political process and none of this had ever been
dramatised for the screen, even though international shows like West Wing and
Scandal have shown the rich storytelling potential that is inherent in this

“We put out a request for proposals in early 2013, asking for ideas for drama
series that were bold and distinctive, and received more than 50 proposals from
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and even the UK!’ continues Bekker.

However, the clincher was the names behind State House. Zuku was keen to
work with writer and director Wanuri Kahui and producer Rebecca Chandler, and
was sure that a collaboration would result in a piece of work they could all be
proud of.

Comments Chandler: “Wanuri and I originated the idea… we felt that there
needed to be a political drama set in Africa to address the many different
political stories, investigations, etc that happen every day in African politics.
“State House is a half-hour drama about lives, loves and scandal that face the
people who work in, live in and visit the President’s residence. It is interesting to
explore the unseen areas of government from a personal, sensitive
perspective,’ explains Kahui.

She continues: “The idea was initially inspired by the book It’s Our Turn to Eat:
The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower by British Journalist Michela Wrong. It was
the first time I had read about what happens within the walls of the State
House in Kenya.’

“State House, we believe, is a first-of-its-kind show in Africa and Kenya,’ says
Chandler. “We believe that we have started a conversation about the “behind-
the-scenes’ machinations of African and Kenyan politics that all viewers will find
interesting and entertaining.’

Contributing to Zuku’s commitment to investing in unique and original content,
Bekker states that: “State House is smack bang in the middle of that
commitment and objective. It typifies our approach of working with the most
talented people we can find, and creating an environment in which they can do
their best work. This is how we try and create “must-see’ programming to attract

“What I like most is the writing and the cast,’ comments Bekker. “Within
minutes of episode one, as a viewer, I understand the stakes and care about
the characters – and that means I’m hooked. It is the first East African series
I’ve seen that makes me want to get the box set and “binge view’ – and from
feedback we know that many other feel that way.’

The series was shot with a Canon 5D over 20 days in October 2013 in a private
residence outside Nairobi.

State House is in English with Swahili subtitles and screens on Zuku
Entertainment on Mondays at 8.30pm.


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