Kenyan filmmaker, Wanuri Kahiu confirmed the Kenyan government banned her film Rafiki because officials deemed the film expressed a “clear intent to promote lesbianism.”
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 was the first Kenyan made film to earn a premiere at Cannes Film Festival. Themes of LBGT representation and social inclusion appear to be prominent. A rundown of the film from the official Rafiki website offers some insight on the plot:
“Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.”
Dr. Ezekiel Mutua of the Kenya Film Classification Board has since issued a formal statement on the ban while also retweeting multiple homophobic tweets about Kenya’s LBGT population.
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
“Indeed, it is our considered view that the moral of the story in the film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the board’s content classification guidelines and the constitution of Kenya,” Mutua’s statement read in part.
Mutua also contends scenes showing the romantic relationship between Rafiki’s two lead characters were absent when the film’s initial script was submitted.
While confirming that her own government banned her film, Kahiu noted she thought “Kenyans are mature and discerning enough to watch local content.”
Rafiki is scheduled to be screened at Cannes on May 8.