Court lifts ban on Kenyan film ‘Rafiki’


High Court has temporarily lifted the ban imposed on the Kenyan film ‘Rafiki’ by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) for allegedly promoting lesbianism.

Justice Wilfrida Okwany lifted the orders for seven days to allow to allow the film to be considered for an award at the Oscars.

During the suspension period which lapses on 30th September, the film has been allowed to be screened to willing adults only.

In her ruling, Justice Okwany said that she was not convinced that Kenya is a weak society whose morals will be weakened by watching the movie.

Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu has sued Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and its boss Ezekiel Mutua over the ban since it was to be submitted to the 2019 Oscars Award as Kenya’s entry to the ‘Best Foreign Language film category’.

It was submitted that Rafiki has been watched in many countries all over the world including being exhibited at the prestigious, Cannes Film Festival and in South Africa where it is rated ‘16’ meaning that it can be viewed by persons over the age of 16.

Others orders sought by Kahiu are that the Kenya Films Classification Guidelines 2012 be declared illegal, be awarded Sh8.5 million in compensation for projected sale from theatre distribution of the film and for loss of sponsorship.

The film which is directed, written and co-produced by Kahiu is about a love story of two teenage girls who develop a romantic relationship, which is opposed by their families and community.

It was adapted from the short story Jambula Tree by Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko, which was awarded the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing in 2007.

According to the KFCB, the moral of the story in the film in the film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and the Boards content classification guidelines.

After the ruling, Mutua posted on his Facebook page “……..After 30th of September 2018, the ban by the Board resumes as earlier announced. It’s a tragedy that anyone in their sane minds think that homosexual content is the one to market Kenya’s film industry in the global market. Films and art in general should reflect the dominant values of the Kenyan people. Homosexuality is not our way of life and is against our values. Anything that threatens or undermines the institution of family, which is derived from the union of two people of the opposite gender must be condemned. The Attempt to normalize homosexuality is akin to air-conditioning hell”.