The Kenyan Classification Board has banned RAFIKI ('Friend' in Swahili), the first Kenyan feature to be accepted for Cannes. It is a love story between two young women, directed by Wanuri Kahiu and co-written with Jenna Cato Bass.
Wanuri tried to have the film classified for viewers 18 and above. But in Kenya, gay sex faces up to 14 years in prison and according to the Hollywood Reporter, President Uhuru Kenyatta told CNN in an interview earlier this month that 'gay rights are not of any major importance' in Kenya. The Classification Board accused RAFIKI of being made with 'clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya, contrary to the law'.
The Kenyan Film Commission is obviously very proud of RAFIKI.
But that seems to have made no difference. Wanuri has tweeted–Another major #handshake in the film industry.We're proud to support @wanuri for being invited to screen first ever Kenyan film at @Festival_Cannes @amulwa2 @ckfoot @RashidEchesa @KenyanMusik @EzekielMutua @Izhow @moscakenya @NikiMags #FilmKenyaCaptureAfrica pic.twitter.com/eqnem24DWz— Kenya Film Commission (@kenyafilmcomm) April 26, 2018
“It all starts with suppression of a few freedoms and before you know it, you can't speak with out permission from the authorities. And then finally you wake up and you know what? It is too late.”— Wanuri (@wanuri) April 29, 2018
- Allan Amanyire
After RAFIKI was accepted for Cannes, I watched and listened to Wanuri speak about Afrobubblegum (see below trailer) and thought she was extraordinary, a total delight. And I was so excited to see RAFIKI.
But now this, and regardless of anything else, it is an issue for all of us.
And here’s Wanuri on Kenyan television, a vibrant interview about the Kenyan industry and how she sees and realises her work, with discussion about the (now inaccessible) local audience.