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A Storyteller's Reflection on Healing and Gratitude

A Storyteller's Reflection on Healing and Gratitude

Producer and filmmaker Appie Matere reflects on how she has healed and grown through the pandemic.


I am currently adapting a South African Emmy nominated TV show called The River. Our version of the show is called Kina, a show we were asked to pitch 3 years ago, and our concept won. Covid hit less than a year into the production. Zamaradi was one of the production companies that was able to adapt and continue filming. We only stopped production for one week.

We were the first to exploit the loophole that allowed for a group of 15 to work in a single location. Before we resumed, we wrote a letter to Nairobi Area requesting permission to continue filming. We did not specify the crew size, and we got our stamped approval.

Kina being a daily meant that we needed to constantly supply the broadcaster with fresh episodes. Ahead of us was an episode that had a wedding. The scene required 100 people. We got bold and called back the second unit. We approached local area authorities who sent us back to the main authorities. We went and got another filming permit. We became a point of reference. From our experience other producers were able to get their production going.
Covid complicated things for me. I had been diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer in September 2019. I was in the middle of chemotherapy. It seemed anyone who had a preexisting condition died of Covid. Despite this, I never missed a day of work and I never stayed home. To reduce my exposure, I avoided going to the set during filming.

I had gone into surgery, and folllowing a mishap during surgery, I was hospitalised and my bill shot to USD 19,000, and my health insurance only covered part of it. After deciding to fundraise privately with my friends and family, someone 'leaked' my message on social media and shared it to a group. A week later, I started receiving five and ten-shilling donations. In the end, I had raised the 15,000 USD and an extra 2,000 USD which I was able to pay for my radiotherapy. The film community, strangers, and 900 people contributed. This was quite humbling that a stranger would send me money. Looking back, I think getting sick was the best thing that ever happened to me. 
I think the future of storytelling is in Africa. The rest of the world has told and retold their stories but Africa is untouched. We started hearing and feeling this ten years ago. We felt that Africa was the next frontier when it came to storytelling. When the digital migration came some of us thought maybe this was the time. Thanks to Covid, Netflix and Showmax saw an increase in their subscriptions in Africa. We started seeing a rise in local consumption of African content by Africans. This was very new. The future of storytelling is now. It’s RIGHT NOW.

*All photos by Firul Maithya