The Lesbian film Rafiki directed by renowned Kenyan movie director Wanuri Kahiu, has been banned in Kenya by the country’s Kenya Films and Classification Board (KFCB) who’s CEO Ezekiel Mutua has been on the spot, often accused of overstepping his mandate.
The critically acclaimed film which has been touted as ‘showing Kenya’s sexuality progress’ has been selected to show-case at the iconic Cannes Festival this year. A historic moment for Kenya you would think, but not so, according to the authorities. The film will be the first Kenyan film to premier in the Un Certain Regard at The Cannes.
The film board boss is not new to sparking controversies during his tenure in office. He has dubbed himself as ‘the sole moral watchtower’ and by so doing has caught his fair share of flak from Kenyan consumers for banning local content from advertisements to music videos. The commission he heads has banned videos from Kenya’s elite boy band Sauti Sol; Nishike, and recently threatened the same action against their collaboration with Patoranking on Melanin. Interestingly the more, the authorities ban content the popular it becomes.
Mutua asserted that the film promoted homosexual deviants that go against the country’s laws and the ‘African’ culture. He insisted that the banning followed thorough consultation from stakeholders and Wanuri herself.
On Wanuri’s part, she took to twitter to express her sentiments and in an interview with Reuters wondered why authorities would ban content on LGBT when films being shown and available in the country already have content to that effect.
The ban on the internationally acclaimed film exploring love between two adult women, has earned Kenya international ridicule while receiving a nod from foreign acts that would share and promote it online; American RnB songstress Janelle Monae who took to Twitter to promote the film and encouraged screenings all over the world. Methinks, Mutua and the film commission in Kenya would work best if they existed in their homophobic Neanderthal’s cave.
Coincidentally enough, the ban came hot on the heels of the President Uhuru Kenyatta making some regrettable comments on CNN, where instead of preaching inclusion, he used the age old ‘African culture card’ to further exalt exclusion, that, ‘Kenyans have more pressing matters to deal with than gay rights’.
Rafiki is Kenya’s – one of Africa’s – first films with an LBGTI (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, and Intersex) theme. It goes where African movies haven’t gone before. It boldly probes erotic love between two young African women amidst a cauldron of family, social, and political pressures.
The international community will watch and celebrate it, while Kenyans will be denied the product of their own genius that should be lauded and hailed.
The only consolation to Kenyans is that the film commission cannot ban the World Wide Web, and just as the previous bans lead to popularizing forbidden content, the movie is expected to attract more viewers among the habitually curious Kenyans.