Showmax has just released an adorable first trailer for Twende, the first Showmax Original 2D animated series that will premiere on December 4, 2023, with new episodes releasing on Saturdays.
Twende, whose name aptly means “Let’s Go” in Swahili, embodies the spirit of taking life slow and savouring every moment. However, his outlook on life clashes with his day job as a boda boda driver, the fastest mode of transportation in the city. Created by the dynamic duo of Charlie and Regan Maas, this groundbreaking show tells a captivating story, taking the audience on a ride of laughter, friendship, and conservation.
Twende’s pilot was an official selection at the prestigious Annecy Animation Festival in 2021, signaling its global appeal and creative prowess. The show is set to make a significant splash on the international stage, with MultiChoice Studios handling international sales and its premiere at MIPCom, a prominent gathering of TV and entertainment executives in October 2023.
Twende’s character lineup features an all-Kenyan voice cast, led by the talented Junior Nyong’o as Twende, and June Gachui as his loyal and sharp-witted avian friend, Nuru. Nuru, a lilac-breasted roller, serves as Twende’s navigator, despite the occasional frustration his laid-back approach causes her. Elsaphan Njora lends his voice to Boss, the perpetually broke and exhausted hyena who owns the boda boda agency where Twende and Nuru work. He’s a single dad struggling to make ends meet.
The Kenyan ensemble also includes Charles Ouda as the showy stunt driver Kimbe and Mkamzee Mwatela as Madam Mongoose, the CEO of the evil tech empire Goober and Boss’s rival. The cast further boasts Nyokabi Macharia, Joyce Musoke, and the experienced voice actor and director Khaemba W. Edward. Together, they bring this imaginative world to life.
While Twende doesn’t explicitly address poaching, it subtly raises awareness about the pangolin’s endangered status. Pangolins, the slowest-moving animals on the savannah, are among the most trafficked creatures globally, facing the threat of extinction.
Kenyan executive producer Kwame Nyong’o, who played a key role in the successful Most Eligible Bachelor Tinder campaign for the Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s last Northern White Rhino, laments the tragic plight of pangolins. Through the humor and escapades in Twende, the show’s creators hope to inspire the audience to fall in love with pangolins and contribute to their protection.
Twende’s conception was a result of the Maas brothers’ journey through East Africa. Inspired by the slow-moving lifestyle of their older brother, whose nickname became “Twende the Pole Pole Man,” the concept was born. They crafted the original theme song during their trip, a catchy tune that embodied the spirit of the show.
The bustling streets of Nairobi, with their chaotic traffic and the prevalence of matatu buses and boda boda drivers, also left a profound impression on the creators. The image of the slowest animal in the savannah operating a boda boda became the foundation of Twende’s whimsical world.
Crucial to the show’s development was the commitment to involving local creatives to capture the authentic essence of African life. The collaboration extended to partners like London-based Braintrust and South Africa’s leading 2D animation studio, Mind’s Eye Creative, which has a history of animating content for major international platforms.
Twende’s creators and production team, including South Africans Mike Scott and Kayla Archer, brought their expertise to ensure the series resonated with a global audience. The writing team featured talents from Zambia, Nigeria, and Kenya, each contributing their unique perspectives and storytelling skills. The series also benefits from the original music of Kenyan producer Eric Musyoka and a score produced by top South African music studios.