Kenya Court Lifts Ban Briefly On Lesbian Film Rafiki Ahead Of Oscars

In April, a ban was placed on the movie ‘Rafiki’ by Kenya’s film classification board. The reason for the ban was because it was aimed to promote gay culture, namely females loving other females. According to the board, the film was banned as a result of its homosexual theme which would be promoting the idea of being a lesbian in Kenya.

However, the movie’s director Wanuri Kahiu challenged the censorship board’s decision early this month in court. In her lawyers’ argument, the ban placed on the film was in violation of her rights to freedom of speech and expression according to the constitution.

Judge Wlfrida Okwany lifted the ban temporarily for seven days to allow it to be featured in the Oscars Awards. Rafiki is restricted to “willing adults only” for seven days for the seven days.

The judge’s decision to lift the ban on the lesbian was to allow Kahiu to benefit from the fame and glory that the Oscar nomination will give to her.

Judge Okwany stated that the matter brought before the court was not to decide if homosexuality was immoral but instead if the artist could exercise her right to freedom of expression and artistic creativity by making a film depicting lesbianism.

Rafiki is the first Kenyan film in history to be nominated for the Cannes Film Festival. It was selected in the “Un Certain Regard” category in May of this year.

The movie is inspired by “Jambula Tree” an award-winning story written by the Ugandan writer Monica Arac Nyeko. Rafiki means ‘friend” and the story is about a love story between two women.

Being a conservative country, it is not surprising to see that a majority of people in Kenya oppose the idea of homosexuality. The country’s penal code clearly states that persons involved in gay or lesbian acts will face 14 years in prison.

The censorship board was no happy with the decision of the court.