“If you live by the gun, you die by the gun.”
Here’s the story as narrated by Harun Wathari, popularly known as Rio.
In the 2000s, there was a notorious gang in Kibera whose young members were made up of talented footballers who played for Olympic Strikers. When the police came calling, not many of them made it out alive.
Pepeta, the new Kenyan crime drama series now streaming on Showmax, is based on this heart-breaking story.
Rio, who was among the survivors, served as part of the research team that helped develop the story for the series.
“This push and pull between football and crime is what makes Pepeta an interesting watch,” says producer James Kombo. “In the game of life, there will always be a battle between good and evil, success and failure, the rich versus the poor. Pepeta is a show that captures all these, with an emphasis on the challenges faced between following your passion, which in this case is football, and taking shortcuts in life to make it, which in this case is getting involved in crime.”
Episode 1 kicks off with a standoff between the police and the gang of Zeze (Dedan Juma), Junior (Brahim Ouma) and Dimore (Malik Lemmy), before we are taken back eight years to where it all began.
As kids, Junior, Dimore and their two friends Dayo and Ade introduce us to Kibera’s world of talented young footballers, who if given the right opportunities, could make it big. The children are played by internet sensation Huruma Town Kids (Daville Mwaura, Wayne Moni, Victor Ochieng and Leon Muiruri).
We’re also introduced to Biki (Lwanda Jawar). A star player for the national team before an injury ruins his successful football career, he morphs into an ambitious football coach determined to get Junior and his friends scouted before the barrel of the gun cuts short their dreams.
“This is a different role for me and a challenge because for the very first time, I’m playing someone who’s bringing some good to the society – not like my previous roles as a gangster,” says Lwanda. “Good is not good if better can be achieved, and Pepeta is better.”
Biki’s biggest obstacle in getting Junior and his friends off the streets is Kepha (played by George Mo), an unforgiving cop with a personal vendetta, determined to rid the streets of criminals by any means necessary. “If you live by the gun, you die by the gun,” Kepha warns in Pepeta’s trailer, giving us a glimpse of how far he is willing to go.
Directed by Vincent Mbaya (County Queen, Chaguo), Pepeta also stars Eravuna Wycliffe (Selina), Avril Nyambura (Sumu la Penzi), Marrianne Nungo (Country Queen), Brian Ngaira (Baba Twins), Bilal Wanjau (Jela 5 Star), Anthony Ndung’u (Nairobi Half Life), and newcomers Eric Aswani, Fridah Mumbe, Suzzanne Karani and Moses Gathoga.