Kenyan LGBTQ+ Love Story: Rafiki, the first Kenyan Film invited to premiere at Cannes, has been banned in its home country. In a statement released today by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), the film was banned for its homosexual themes, something that is illegal in Kenya.
“The Kenya Film Classification Board would like to announce that a local film title ‘Rafiki’ produced by Awali Entertainment Ltd and directed by Wanuri Kahiu has been RESTRICTED due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law.”
The film cannot be distributed, exhibited, or broadcast anywhere in Kenya, and you cannot be in possession of the film or else you will in breach of the law. Making the film virtually impossible to be seen in its home country.
LGBT+ rights are something that is very continuous in Kenya currently. Colonial-era laws that are still in place to this day, ban homosexuality and label it as a crime that carries at least a 14-year jail term. While LGBT+ groups are campaigning for rights and are currently petitioning the country’s High Court to overturn the law, it seems as if the government has little to no interest in giving LGBT+ people rights.
In a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta stated that gay rights are of ‘of no importance’ to the people in Kenya. When questioned about giving LGBT+ individuals rights, he claimed that homosexuality is not an issue of human rights, but rather of “our own base as a culture.”
The director of the film, Wanuri Kahiu released a statement on Twitter upon news that her film had been banned.
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
The film, Kenya’s first Cannes-bound film is set to premiere this May. You can watch the official trailer below.