Within a large slum in Kenya, the opening scenes of Soul Boy features a young boy, Abila (Samson Odhiambo), waking to find his father slumped in a corner looking very ill. When he inquires what has happened, his father replies that he is dead, that he has no soul. Determined to find the answer, Abila meets with his friend Shiku (Leila Dayan Opou) and tells her what has happened. She replies that she not only believes him but claims to have known a mysterious woman Nyawawa (Krysteen Savane), who died, that might be linked to his father’s situation.
She warns that Nyawawa was a beautiful person before her death but is now a dangerous spiritual being who holds a spell of temptation. At one point described as a kind of witch, one who thieves off the souls of greedy men. Though the reason for her actions the film never fully explains.
Temptation is the reason for the father’s dire situation. He owns a small shop and has not paid rent to his landlord, who has a dangerous second in command who poses a viable threat. His father is close to being thrown out, or worse. Abila himself is now tempted into meeting with this witch, who lives the darkest part of the vast slums.
In a darkly lit scene, Abila asks her about his father’s soul, and though she claims that he is only a boy and cannot retrieve it, she gives Abila tasks that she doesn’t believe he can fulfill. These tasks take him on a twisting and knowledgeable journey through the slums and surrounding areas.
Through these tasks he learns about the village that he never knew of and the truth about the inhabitants within it. The film uses the quest structure this structure to illustrate the realities of life within the slums of Kenya. Each person that Abila helps inadvertently causes a positive ripple effect on the community. Created with a limited budget, Soul Boy is a notable African film that is both educational and thematic, it explores the ways temptation impacts lives in a meaningful fashion.