Nilichoma: Kenya-centric docuseries explores how money makes and destroys lives

Nilichoma is a compelling and relevant exploration of human nature and its relationship with money but through a Kenyan lens.

Photo credit: Pool

Kuchoma, a Swahili word means "to burn." It is also slang for losing or destroying something valuable or functional.

The Earth, our home, is a fascinating place filled with wonders that many fail to appreciate due to overexposure. Whether it’s the wildlife, the vegetation, or us, the people, there’s always something new to learn. Documentaries help bridge this gap, offering edutainment and serving as a reminder of how fascinating the world around us is.

Nilichoma (Kenyan slang for I messed up) is an interesting exploration of personalities and what happens when they are exposed to a life-changing element (in this case money). It basically tries to answer that one question that has given mathematicians, philosophers and some of the greatest minds sleepless nights, what would happen to an average person if you were to suddenly drop an unreasonably large amount of money on their lap?


Nilichoma is a Kenyan Showmax original docuseries capturing the dreams and downfalls of Kenyan personalities (some familiar, others not) who came into significant wealth but faced challenges that come with that.

Produced by Ahmed Deen and co-produced by Isaya Evans, the 10 stories offer an immersive emotional experience with personal narratives, interviews, archive photos and reenactments.

What works

This series is distinctly Kenyan, featuring personalities unique to Kenya. From the language and accents to the mannerisms and physical features, and even to small Kenyan habits like clapping while laughing, the series fully embraces and relates deeply with local audiences. These real characters might remind you of your uncle, sister, or aunt, and their situations may echo your own experiences—it just hits home.

Despite some stories feeling familiar, it remains fascinating to see how quickly money can come and go. These are essentially stories of Kenyan people making stupid decisions under the influence of money.

The reenactments are well done, capturing the Kenyan atmosphere that many of us know intimately. Some episodes utilise costume and set design to create an authentic look that perfectly complements the interviews.

The editing is sharp, seamlessly balancing the talking heads, voiceovers, and re-enactments to keep viewers fully engaged. Moments of creativity, such as a quick random scene that is later fully revealed, add to the experience.

The cinematography is also noteworthy. The talking head scenes have their own distinct visual style across all episodes, differentiating them from the re-enactments through effective lighting and composition. Each episode presents a different flavour, situation, and set of personalities. While some stories take place in Nairobi and feel familiar, others go outside the city and are surprising and impactful while others will have you scream at the screen. For me, the story of Ambrose stood out—you have to see it to understand.

What doesn’t hit the spot

The docuseries reminded me of CTA (Clearing The Airwaves) on YouTube with how they framed the talking heads and the lighting of the location. With the main differences being the re-enactments and a sharper focus on money and substance abuse.

The sound design, particularly the music during transitions, sometimes forced me to keep the remote handy every now and then to adjust the volume.

Despite the overall quality, some stories felt too familiar and ended up being somewhat predictable.


Nilichoma is a compelling and relevant exploration of human nature and its relationship with money but through a Kenyan lens. While some stories are too familiar and two episodes might feel repetitive, with their well-shot and well-edited reenactments, these stories will remind you of relatives, neighbours, or friends, while others will astonish and leave a lasting impression. But the biggest standout is that this docuseries looks, sounds and feels like it was designed and crafted exclusively for Kenyans.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.