The film that tells the love story of two girls is banned by the Kenyan Film Classification Board ‘due to its homosexual theme’.

Banned Kenyan lesbian romance Rafiki to be screened at Intl Film Fest of KeralaStill from 'Rafiki'; courtesy: www.wanurikahiu.com
Flix Film Festival Sunday, December 02, 2018 - 16:38

Wanuri Kahiu made a film called Rafiki this year and it is banned in her home country, Kenya. The film that tells the love story of two girls is banned by the Kenyan Film Classification Board “due to its homosexual theme”. But it became the first Kenyan film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and is going to be screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) this month.

Rafiki – meaning friends in Swahili – is about Kena and Ziki, two very different girls living in Nairobi. One is tomboyish, the other all girly. When they fall in love, they try to be secretive about it but at one point they have to choose between love and safety.

Kahiu is not a new name, she has written and directed six films to date, and her dramatic feature From a Whisper won several awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards. So one might say she knew what she was getting herself into, considering the legal challenges faced by the LGBT community in Kenya – sodomy is a felony, sexual practices between males are punishable, same-sex marriage is banned.

But Kahiu puts it neatly when she says that an outsider would possibly say – of course, there is a ban and of course you should have expected it. “But there is no of course when your government – bodies in the government – decide to violate your constitutional rights. It is a constitutional right to express yourself, a constitutional right to have freedom of expression and speech,” she says in an interview.

The director says that is important to have conversations with the family before you make such a film. She spoke to her parents, told them this was the film she wanted to make. When they asked why, Kahiu simply said, “’Cause everybody has the right to love. It is the most basic human right.”

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