Something wonderful is happening in Kenya. From the 23rd of September to the 29th of September, people all over the country turned up in droves to watch a film that had been banned previously by The Kenya Film Classification Board.
“Rafiki contains homosexual scenes that are against the law, the culture and moral values of the Kenyan people,” Ezekiel Mutua, the head of the KFCB had said in a statement. “The film seeks to overtly promote lesbianism.”
“Rafiki” contains homosexual scenes that are against the law, the culture and the moral values of the Kenyan people. The film seeks to overtly promote lesbianism.#KFCBbansLesbianFilm
@PresidentKE @WilliamsRuto@CSRashidEchesa@NellyMuluka @wanuri pic.twitter.com/CeyiEtLQep
— KFCB (@InfoKfcb) April 27, 2018
Not one to accept defeat, the film’s director, Wanuri Kahiu sued the film classification board and stated that the ban went against her constitutional right and effectively ruined the movie, Rafiki‘s chance to qualify for the Oscars. One of the requirements for an Academy Award nomination is that the film had to be screened for at least seven days in the home country.
Then, on 21st September, high court judge Wilfrida Okwany handed down a ruling in favour of Rafiki. “I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral fabric will be shaken simply by watching a film depicting gay themes,” she said, according to Buzzfeed.
The theatres ran packed – morning, afternoon and evening. This is especially stunning because of the country’s strong anti-sodomy laws – homosexuality can lead to a 14-year jail sentence in Kenya. But when the two main characters in Rafiki kissed, the theatres erupted in applause.
“The case has become larger than the film, because the case is not about Rafiki,” Kahiu told NPR over the phone. “The case is about freedom of expression.” Rafiki was also the first Kenyan film to be screened at Cannes.
“That was the point, that it doesn’t matter who you are, love is love and that is an absolute universal, basic language,” she added.
Something wonderful is happening in Kenya and it all started with a movie.
(Header credits: A still from the movie via Twitter)