Rafiki: More details on why movie was banned


Rafiki movie director Wanuri Kahiu
Rafiki movie director Wanuri Kahiu. Photo/COURTESY

In Summary

  • Rafiki was banned after scenes not in the script originally submitted for approval were sneaked in, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has said.
  • A statement issued on Friday indicates that the director, Wanuri Kahiu, was called when the movie was finally submitted and asked to remove them but she refused.
  • The Board further alleges that foreign sponsors are trying to introduce and normalise homosexuality in Kenya through movies and they should desist from such acts.

Rafiki was banned after scenes not in the script originally submitted for approval were sneaked in, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has said.

A statement issued by the Board indicates that the director Wanuri Kahiu was called when the movie was finally submitted and asked to remove them but she refused.

KFCB further alleges that foreign sponsors are trying to introduce and normalise homosexuality in Kenya through movies and they should desist from such acts.

“Kenya is a country with a culture, beliefs and shared values which must be respected,” the statement reads in part.

“Hare-brained schemes by foreigners funding film producers in Kenya to promote homosexuality in the name of equality and inclusion will be exposed and strongly resisted, it adds.

According to Wanuri, her movie was inspired by the 2007 Caine Prize winning short story “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.

Kenya is highly conservative and a large majority holds negative views about LGBT people.

During a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, President Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed calls for gay rights saying that the issue is not of any importance to Kenyans.

The country’s penal code criminalises “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” 

Anyone found engaging in homosexual activities could face up to 14 years in prison.

The new constitution promulgated in 2010 guarantees all Kenyans the rights to privacy, equality, dignity and non-discrimination; yet LGBT people still face discrimination and violence, according to the Human Rights Watch.

Two months ago, the High Court began hearing a case that may decriminalize homosexuality in Kenya.

In 2014, it banned the Oscar-winning Wolf of Wall Street for extreme scenes of nudity, sex, alcohol, drug-taking and profanity.

It also forced Coca-Cola to scrap a kissing scene in an ad because it “violated family values.”

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