Queen Sono: South African Espionage Royalty

Now here’s a show to soak your greens and beat your fufu to on a Saturday afternoon.

Queen Sono is a South African crime drama about a rookie agent facing criminal operations that threaten the stability of the country, as well as startling revelations about her past. Queen Sono is Netflix’s first original African series, created by Kagiso Lediga and stars Pearl Thusi as the titular character, the chief field operative of the Special Operations Group (SOG) and daughter of slain revolutionary leader Safiya Sono.

Production Still: Pearl Thusi as Queen Sono

From the jump, this show smacks you in the mouth with that good good. A pivotal moment that stood out to me was when Queen is running through Zanzibar’s vibrant marketplace looking for her target and throws hot peppers onto an open fire to make smoke and cause a distraction. A diversion like that is so genuinely African and could only be thought of by someone truly in tune with the culture. Pearl Thusi shines as Queen, commanding the camera with one show-stopping outfit after another, proceeding to straight-up son groups of men twice her size in close-ranged combat. You feel the intensity of each fight. Queen touches her earpiece, panting and bloody to tell the SOG that the mission is done. She’s very good at what she does, which makes her cocky; it’s fun to see a black woman confident in her abilities walk into a room full of suits and talk to every last one of them spicy because she knows she always produces results.

Production Still: Loyiso Madinga as Frederique Kazadi

On top of Queen’s black excellence, she’s got a hell of a supporting cast backing her up. Loyiso Madinga plays Frederique Kazadi, the team field technician. It’s refreshing to see an African serving as the “guy in the chair,” and his French accent makes him a very colourful addition to the team.

Production Still: Chi Mhende as Miriro Dube

Chi Mhende commands authority as Miri Dube, the Director-General. Miri comes from a wealthy South African family that’s very protective of their lineage. She was given the opportunity to study abroad but with the expectation that she’s to go back home and use what she learned for the advancement of the Motherland, as well as produce children for a South African husband. She didn’t have the luxury of taking her time to find herself as Queen did, so the two of them often clash when Queen’s brash way of completing a mission goes against her by-the-book mentality. I see parts of Miri in my mom, my aunts and my female cousins.

The villains in this show are also top-notch. Kate Liquorish plays Ekaterina Gromova, Russian heiress to the Gromova crime family and owner of the private military group Superior Solutions. I like this villain not only because the show doesn’t sugarcoat her colonizer aspirations, but they also address her struggle to be taken seriously in her own family due to misogyny when she’s clearly the most suited to run the show. At her side is Shandu Magwaza (Vuyo Dabula), an ex-SOG agent, Ekaterina’s right-hand man and my future baby father. Shandu has a very traumatic past and is willing to do whatever it takes to rise to power, even if it means hurting his own people. His interactions with Queen are complicated and messy, and I live for all of it.

Production Still: Abigail Kubh as Mazet

And of course, there’s the heart of Queen Sono, Mazet (played by South African singer-songwriter Abagail Kubeka. Mazet is the sage elder Queen needs in her fast-paced life to center her and remind her of what she’s fighting for. Something I appreciated in this character is her ability to not only give great advice to the younger generation but also listen and understand new information from the youth as well. Mazet asks Queen if the reason she is not dating one of her colleagues is if it’s because he is gay, and Queen responds by calmly telling her that she shouldn’t speak of queerness in a negative light, to which she apologizes. In my 28 gay ass Liberian years of living, I have never seen two African women speak this calmly and gracefully about queerness on TV. It warmed my heart.

There’s so much to love about Queen Sono. The vibrant cast, The various African locations, the fact that the characters switch between several African languages such as isiZulu, Swahili and isiXhosa. I’m very excited to see more black women in badass action roles this year. The fact that we’re getting two black female spies in 2020 (Lashana Lynch in No Time To Die is up next) is mind-blowing.

So sit down with a big bowl of fufu and greens and get you a piece of Queen Sono. Kicking ass and serving looks all throughout the continent.

Edited By Keshav Kant

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