Kenya Bans ‘Rafiki’ Ahead Of It’s History Making Cannes Debut
A few weeks ago, we reported that Wanuri Kahiu’s debut feature film, Rafiki will be the first Kenyan film to debut at Cannes Film Festival, which is a massive deal for African cinema.
Following the release of the moving trailer for the film, Kenya’s Film and Classification Board (KFCB) banned Rafiki “because of the intent to promote lesbianism in the country”.
The Kenya Film Classification Board has banned the film “RAFIKI” due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and dominant values of the Kenyans.
#KFCBbansLesbianFilm@PresidentKE @InfoKfcb @NellyMuluka @moscakenya @Khagali_M pic.twitter.com/5STVTriEEP
— Dr. Ezekiel Mutua (@EzekielMutua) April 27, 2018
The statement put out by the board added that Rafiki should not be distributed or shown anywhere in the country, and anyone found with a copy will be in breach of the law.
Much like it is here in Nigeria, Kenya is super conservative and a large majority of their society holds negative views about the LGBT community. Kenya’s penal code criminalises homosexuality as well, and anyone found engaging in homosexual activities could face up to 14 years in prison.
The first thing we would like to let African leaders know is that homosexuality exists with or without a film that “promotes” it. African society is oppressive to its people and this just shows that there is no length they won’t go to continue this oppression.
I am incredibly sorry to announce that our film RAFIKI has been banned in Kenya. We believe adult Kenyans are mature and discerning enough to watch local content but their right has been denied. #Cannes2018 #AKenyanFirst
— Wanuri (@wanuri) April 27, 2018
Rafiki touches on the struggles members of the LGBT community face in Kenya, we can see them trying to “pray away the gay” and physically assaulting the lesbian couple for their love. Perhaps the reason for the ban is that they don’t want to be seen as the monsters they really are, and Wanuri Kahiu touches on this briefly in an interview with Reuters saying:
“I’m really disappointed because Kenyans already have access to watch films that have LGBT content on Netflix and in international films shown in Kenya, permitted by the classification board itself.
So to then just ban a Kenyan film because it deals with something already happening in society just seems like a contradiction.”
Well, hypocrisy is not a new phenomenon within the African society, so this doesn’t surprise us at all. We’re sad and disappointed that such a meaningful and pertinent movie will not be allowed to make its coins in its own home country.