'Flash Squad' redefines teenage upbringing in a digital age in Africa

Sunday May 29 2022
Director and cast of "Flash Squad".

Terssy Injine (left) the lead actress on "Flash Squad" explains the importance of transparent relationships with parents and guardians to the audience during the show’s premier in Nairobi. With her is the lead actor Viktor Karanja (centre) and June Ndinya (right,) the director. PHOTO | COURTESY


For parents who grew up without the internet, social media, or mobile phones, the movie Flash Squad is helping to understand teenage children in the digital age.

The film highlights the challenges that the contemporary digital age has brought on adolescents, that could slip their parents’ eyes, but directly affect their growth and wellbeing.

It defies tradition, deviating from common teen film themes of education and health, and ingeniously blending humour and style to tell of problems facing the modern-day teenager.

The movie premiered at the Westgate Cinema in Nairobi on May 26, and is set to air on Akili Kids from May 27 and every subsequent Friday evening.

Directed by June Ndinya, Flash Squad depicts a modern high-school set-up, where students bring phones to school and internet or social media use is used more than text books, but comes at a dear cost.

A poster of the movie "Flash Squad".

A poster of the movie "Flash Squad". PHOTO | COURTESY


"The squad" is a group of three cyber-smart best friends, Ahmed — played by Viktor Karanja, Honesty — played by Tessy Njine, and Mimi — played by Idda Sandra Chadola, who come to the rescue of their colleagues when the use of the internet becomes difficult.

The film also stars Malik Lemuel, known for playing Govi is teen Tv series Machachari, and briefly features Ugandan rapper GNL Zamba.

The film explores the themes of cyberbullying, mobile money scams, online safety, internet trolling and cyber-security. Although these issues cut across generations, they also affect adolescents who are largely naïve and emotionally fragile.

While almost all the characters are adolescents seemingly lost in a digital world, Ndinya says that the film is not just for teenagers, but is intended to enlighten adults and parents.

“This film is going to be an eye opener to everyone in the things that we do on social media, what we post, what information we share, and how we interact with internet strangers,” she said.

Jessse Soleil, the film’s creator and executive producer and the president of Akili Network, said, “Cyber safety and security is a pressing issue, especially with teenagers being forced online by the pandemic. And parents don’t know what goes on online.”

“This film highlights some of the most important issues that affect teenagers on social media today. Our children must know how to stay safe online, and we must learn how to protect them,” said Evelyne Kasina, a child online safety practitioner.

The first season of the series has six episodes, each about seven minutes long and will be premiered on YouTube and local streaming network Baze every Friday evening.

Ndinya said they are open to suggestions from the public.

The film also comes with a toll-free SMS line to support victims of the issues it seeks to address and respond to any questions.