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10 Best Documentaries About Kenya

These documentaries about Kenya show its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and the country’s multifaceted identity.

Nestled on the eastern coast of Africa, Kenya is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, from the iconic savannahs of the Maasai Mara to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya.


Documentaries About Kenya

Beyond its natural wonders, the country pulsates with a vibrant tapestry of cultures, each contributing to Kenya’s unique and dynamic character.

Documentaries about Kenya delve into its history, wildlife, and the daily lives of its people, offering a kaleidoscopic view of a nation that bridges tradition and modernity in a harmonious dance.

These are a mix of more mainstream documentaries that you will find on streaming platforms like Amazon and others that are free to watch on YouTube.

I’ve spent around 2 months in Kenya and it’s one of my favourite countries.


Thank You For The Rain (2017)

Thank You for the Rain follows the life of Kisilu Musya, a farmer from Kenya, who documents his experiences and challenges as he tries to improve his family’s life and combat the effects of climate change on his community.

Kisilu Musya initially starts recording his daily life with a small camera, documenting the changes in weather patterns, the impact on agriculture, and the struggles faced by his family and fellow villagers. The film captures his journey as he becomes an environmental activist, advocating for sustainable farming practices and raising awareness about climate change.

The title, “Thank You for the Rain,” reflects Kisilu’s gratitude for the life-giving rain essential for agriculture, while also acknowledging the challenges and disruptions caused by unpredictable weather patterns.

This is one of the best documentaries about Kenya that provides a personal and intimate look at the impact of climate change on individuals and communities in the Global South. It explores the intersection of environmental issues, social justice, and the resilience of people facing the consequences of a changing climate.


Softie (2020)

Softie follows the life of Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan photojournalist and political activist, as he decides to run for political office in the 2017 Kenyan elections.

The documentary provides insights into the challenges and risks faced by individuals seeking political change in Kenya and the broader context of political activism in the country.

“Softie” has compelling storytelling and a good exploration of the complexities of political engagement in Kenya. It has been featured in various film festivals and has garnered attention for its intimate portrayal of the personal and political struggles of its protagonist.


Gardeners of Eden (2014)

Gardeners of Eden focuses on the issue of elephant poaching in Africa, particularly in Kenya. The documentary follows the efforts of a group of individuals who are working to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants.

The title, “Gardeners of Eden,” reflects the idea that humans have a responsibility to care for and protect the natural world, acting as stewards or gardeners. The film sheds light on the challenges faced by elephants due to poaching for their ivory tusks and the impact of this illegal trade on elephant populations.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants, is one of the key elements in this documentary.

Overall, “Gardeners of Eden” addresses the urgent need for the conservation and protection of elephants, as well as the broader issues surrounding wildlife trafficking and habitat loss.

The film aims to raise awareness about the plight of elephants and inspire action to ensure their survival in the wild.

Have a read of the 10 best documentaries about elephants (opens in new tab).


Kifaru (2019)

Kifaru follows the lives of the last male northern white rhinoceros named Sudan and the two Kenyan caretakers, Jojo and Jacob, who are tasked with protecting him as part of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy rhino caretaker unit.

The film provides a poignant and intimate look into the lives of these individuals and the broader issues surrounding rhino conservation, poaching, and the challenges faced by those working to protect these endangered animals.


Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2008)

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai explores the life and work of Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist from Kenya.

The film focuses on Maathai’s efforts in environmental conservation, human rights, and women’s rights. Wangari Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization that promotes tree planting, conservation, and women’s rights.

The documentary provides a comprehensive look at Wangari Maathai’s life, her dedication to environmental and social causes, and the transformative impact of her work.


Big Cat Diary (1996-2008)

Big Cat Diary is a wildlife documentary television series that originally aired on BBC One from 1996 to 2008. The series primarily focused on the daily lives and activities of big cats in the Maasai Mara reserve in Kenya.

The show gained popularity for its intimate and detailed coverage of the lives of lions, leopards, and cheetahs in their natural habitat.

The series followed a format where a team of wildlife experts and presenters would track and observe the behaviours of various big cats in the Maasai Mara over a specific period, typically during the dry season.

Main Characters (Big Cats):

Lions: The show often featured different prides of lions, with a focus on individual members and their struggles for survival.

Leopards: The elusive and solitary nature of leopards provided an interesting dynamic, and the series followed the lives of different leopard individuals.

Cheetahs: Known for their speed, cheetahs were also featured in the series, showcasing their hunting techniques and challenges.

While primarily an observational documentary, “Big Cat Diary” also conveyed important conservation messages. The series highlighted the challenges faced by these big cats, including threats from predators, changing landscapes, and human-wildlife conflicts.

This is one of the best documentary series about Kenya to watch to get a look into the Maasai Mara and the big cats and other wildlife there.


World’s Most Dangerous Roads | Kenya

In this documentary, we see just how the Africans do it as they transport some of the most perishable local products with speed, determination, and high risk on the continent’s most dangerous roads – these are what’s known as the flying trucks!


Gangland: Killer Squads of Kenya’s Political Underworld

This documentary takes a look at the presence of organised criminal gangs and their extreme brutality which has sharply increased since the post-independence era in Kenya.

Since the 1990s, violence, ethnic divisions and corruption have all been linked to the gang phenomena in the country. The cycle of violence has become so pervasive that many politicians are now entrenched in funding their own gangs to win an election by any means necessary.


Slum Survivors: Kenya

Slum Survivors: Kenya explores some of the stories of the people who live in the largest slum in Africa in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

As many as one million people live in the slum that is the Kibera settlement and this is one of the best documentaries about Kenya that takes a look into it.


Free Money (2022)

Free Money explores how lives are changed when universal basic income (UBI) comes to the Kenyan village of Kogutu.


Kenya

These documentaries about Kenya collectively provide a multifaceted view of the country, offering glimpses into its wildlife, socio-political landscape, cultural intricacies, and the daily lives of its people.

For more on the country have a look at my guides to Kenya.

For more on the region have a look at the 10 best documentaries about Uganda.

And the 10 best documentaries about Rwanda.


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