By Madalyn McKnight
The beauty of African media has become so much clearer to me in the last year. Between media and initiatives such as the Year of The Return, seeing the beautiful black and brown faces on television and witnessing the immense talent against a vast and varying landscape has me longing for both travel and a deeper connection. I recently finished Queen Sono and it is easily one of the best shows I’ve been introduced to this year. It is the story about the daughter of a revolutionary woman who died prematurely. Queen works for an organization aimed at exposing crime and injustice in South Africa all while being on personal a road to vengeance for her mother. At its core, she’s a young woman who has experienced and witnessed so much trauma and dealing with life, all while trying to find herself. The opening scene of the first episode is so gorgeous that I was instantly taken aback when I figured out that Queen was in the middle of a mission. I knew then I was in for a ride. It is a story of love, betrayal, loyalty, revenge, and trauma.
The show boasts being Netflix’s first African original series and it delivers. Pearl Thusi plays the main character and delivers a stellar performance. Not to mention that she is beyond beautiful and effortlessly displays both strength and vulnerability in Queen’s character. The unnamed character being the beauty of Africa is also on full display. The landscape played a pivotal role in the story unfolding. The show was shot in Johannesburg, South Africa, Lagos, Nigeria, and Zanzibar, Tanzania. Each of these locations added a new layer to the story and the journey Queen makes both physically, professionally, and emotionally.
This is the image of Africa that the media shielded us from for years. There was so much coverage on the Apartheid along Nelson Mandela being freed from prison and for the most part, we only saw the war and devastation. From there, aside from Nelson Mandela related news (which was and still is very important), everything went quiet, but so much life was still happening that we were not aware of. South Africa has gone through many changes in the last thirty years and although this is a fictional show it is evident that the effects of Apartheid will affect generations to come. There is still work to be done in the name of equality and justice and that is clear and this show is sensitive to that.
The short season packed so much power that it was just renewed for a second season, so expect more of Queen Sono in the coming years. I won’t spoil it for you, but there are plenty of other characters that also take journeys on this show. Expect action, fashion, and pride. I will also seek more stories from Africans all over the continent. Africans are living out loud and have so much to contribute to every single conversation involving the many plights of black Americans. It is up to us to bridge the gap and make the leap to learn.
Madalyn McKnight is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. A rare blackbird who has the range and a young black professional with impactful words! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @singsongblackbird and twitter @singsongblckbrd