This is a Kenya vs Uganda production battle. The Hostel is a Ugandan production by Fast Track Production while Kenya’s Higher learning is a product of Spielworks Media. Both air on NTV and are based on lives of campus students. But that’s where the common thread ends. Vincent Matinde takes a critical look at both productions.
Higher Learning sets its story in the fictitious Kilimanjaro University. The idea is to take us from the classroom to the living quarters and private lives of the students.
The Hostel focuses on one location: The New Edge Hostel. Here we get to see the social side of students in campus and the silly things they do. Although for such a big hostel, they are like six prominent characters! New Edge hostel is definitely making losses.
Higher Learning has more rough edged characters that are either involved in a criminal activity or are heart breakers in the campus. We have a prominent story of a call-girl agency being run in the school by one the students named Aida and the Principal, no less. If this is believable, I am not sure.
The Hostel, has more lighthearted, crazy, obnoxious characters, headed by Odoch. I am not sure if it’s the wanting English that makes this series laughable! The Hostel brings together different characters who co-exist in the same living area. Some memorable characters include the hostel caretaker, Sobba (ironically, he is drunk half the time). Oh, there is a random inclusion of characters that disappear as fast as they appear. They expect you to stomach it.
Higher learning has more of the illegal and criminal things students do to survive in campus. There are stories of drug trafficking, prostitution, corruption in the administration. Jess (Jessica) is a well brought up girl from a good family but by the second season, she is not the girl we know. Her aim is to get through campus, graduate and make her wealthy father happy.
The Hostel mostly deals with relationships. Most of the storyline is embedded on the reality of heartbreaks and new love. Twine, one of the protagonists always finds himself in a love triangle of some sort. Odoch, his roomy doesn’t make things any easier with his “out of the box” ideas and quick fixes, which always lead to trouble. For the Hostel they have great plot, but bad execution! It’s almost a “kill-me-now” moment throughout.
The Hostel has somewhat hanging storyline flow. Some issues never get resolved and some characters disappear for ages! Somehow they get to tie up the loose ends — eventually, if you have patience for it.
Higher Learning has a more compact story telling flow. Each sub-story has a logical conclusion to it but somewhat predictable. But only reaffirms the stereotype about Uni guys – that they are only driven by mischief. There is more in campus than drugs, crime and cheating.
The Hostel has pitched itself as a conflict ridden story. There are more chick fights than in a chicken farm. The story intertwines with jealous roommates, regardless of gender. The Christian character, Hope always finds herself in the ridicule of others. Gilo (Gilbert) a heartless (and brainless) playboy who goes after everything in a skirt adds on to the conflict especially with Twine.
Higher Learning on the other hand, has more rough edge conflicts with love interests being minimal. Double crossing and betrayal rhymes throughout the plot. Aida who plays the lady “pimp” seems not be a trusted character and also gets sold out by the principal when the news about the call girl syndicates hits the wind. These conflicts greatly fail to bring us to be in touch with the characters. Do we like anyone at the end really?
Higher Learning 7/10
The Hostel 5/10
What is your verdict?