The controversial Movie Rafiki gets rave reviews from the Kenyan public

The controversial Movie Rafiki gets rave reviews from the Kenyan public

Kenyans boldly jumped at the opportunity to see the movie, ‘Rafiki’, about love between two women. The movie which was previously banned in the country by Kenya’s Film and Classification Board (KFCB) in April for having a lesbian theme had its ban temporarily lifted by a Kenyan court

The ruling allowed Kenyans of appropriate age 9 18 and above) to watch the movie for the first time in the country for just one week from September 23 until 29th.

Now, plenty of accolades are coming in by many Kenyans for the movie on social media.

Many find it absurd the movie was banned in the first place with comments like ‘it is indeed a same to think that watching a homosexual movie will make us homosexuals. I have watched these Nigerian movies and I have not become a witch’


The film is also receiving support from other countries as festivals in the UK and Nigeria are planning to screen it.

Lola Shoneyin, director of the Ake Arts & Book Festival explained why the Nigerian festival will be screening ‘Rafiki’ in October.

‘The Ake Arts & Book Festival is all about developing, promoting and… celebrating all aspects of our culture but especially the core arts. We heard about the film and some of the controversy and we think that it’s important that it’s screened at this festival which…was established to encourage people to ask questions about what it means to be an African.’

Kenyan actress and Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o also tweeted her support for the movie when the ruling was announced, saying: ‘…great day for the creative industry in Kenya! Congratulations @wanuri!’


Director Wanuri Kahiu filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the censorship board’s ruling.

Kahiu’s lawyers argued that banning the film violated her constitutional right to free speech and free expression as an artist.

The temporary ban allows ‘Rafiki’ to be eligible to be submitted for the Best Foreign Language film at next year’s Academy Awards.

According to the Academy’s rules, a film must be shown in the country where it was produced for seven consecutive days to be eligible.

Reacting to the court judgment, Kahiu posted an emotional statement on Twitter.

‘I am crying. In a French airport. In SUCH Joy! Our constitution is STRONG! Give thanks to freedom of expression!!!! WE DID IT! We will be posting about Nairobi screening soon,’ she said.


The debate on ‘Rafiki’ is not about freedom. It’s about our essential values. The hullabaloo about artistic freedom is a decoy. The big agenda is to corrupt our culture and moral values, and to kill the institution of family,” says the head of KFCB Dr. Ezekiel Mutua on Twitter.

The movie made history in May this year as the first Kenyan movie to premiere at the Cannes film festival.
Inspired by the 2007 Caine Prize short story winner ‘Jambula Tree’ by Ugandan writer Monica Arac Nyeko, ‘Rafiki’ which means ‘friend’ in Swahili is the story of friendship and tender love that grows between two young women amidst family and political pressures, according to the film’s promotional material.

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