Kenya’s High Court has temporarily lifted the ban of Wanuri Kahiu’s celebrated film Rafiki for a period of seven days, beginning Sunday, September 23rd. The film explores LGBTQ issues in a country where such activity is illegal.
In her ruling, High Court Judge Wilfrida Okwany said, ‘’I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.’’
Earlier this year, Rafiki was banned in Kenya a few days before its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it made history as the first Kenyan film selected for the festival.
The High Court granted the temporary lift on the ban to allow Rafiki to have a seven-day Oscar qualifying run in Kenyan cinemas. After that period, the film will be banned again. Writer/Director Wanuri Kahiu will continue to challenge the banning through the courts.
Rafiki will screen at the Prestige Cinemas, at Prestige Plaza Nairobi from September 23-29.
“I am full of joy,” said Kahiu. “I remained hopeful that our constitution is strong. I believe it is our right as creators to reflect society and it is our role to talk about all subjects. We have a freedom of expression clause in our constitution and we should not be discriminated against.”
Based on the short story Jambula Tree by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko, the film is a love story between two girls who have to choose between happiness and safety in a country where homosexual activity is against the law. The film marks the acting and screen debut of Samantha Mugatsia, drummer, visual artist, and member of Nairobi’s electric underground band Yellow Light Machine. She stars as Kena alongside actress Sheila Munyiva as Ziki.