During a visit to Kenya in 2015, Barrack Obama shared his two cents on the need for equal treatment of all Kenyans regardless of sexuality even comparing the legalized discrimination of gays in Kenya to legalized racism in America. In response, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta dismissively suggested that while Kenya and the US share a lot in common, pedigrees on homosexuality was not one of those things. Kenya like many African states is yet to accept same sex relationships and the close mindedness spreads to the type of art that is accepted by audiences. Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu is currently being threatened with arrests for the inclusion of a same sex love story in her new movie, Rafiki.
Kahiu says the threats came from the Kenya Film Classification Board, the organization responsible for approving films who have banned Rafiki for “normalizing homosexuality in Kenya.” Furthermore, the board claims Kahiu sent in a fake script for initial approval and continues to reportedly build a legal case against her for breaking the law. While Wanuri Kahiu expected the movie to be banned, she has no intention of backing down and expresses her views fearlessly.
“I am an artiste, and it’s my constitutional right to make this film,” she declared. “So I would do it again, and I would do it again, and I would do it again. I won’t stop doing my work because other people are trying to violate my right. I think it’s for them to deal with their violations.”
“If they want they can arrest me and we can go to court to prove I haven’t broken the law. But I am going home. It’s where I live. I am not going to hide, I am not going into exile,” she said. “My family is there, my children are there, my husband is not about to leave. It’s a place that inspires me, that I make films for, the place that I make films about.”
The movie in question, Rafiki recently premiered at Cannes as Kenya’s first ever entry in the film festival’s 71 year history. Additionally, Kahiu has inked a deal with American production company, Gotham Group who have played a hand in movies like Maze Runner. Early guesses would be that Gotham Group shall come in to distribute the movie in the West.
In Nigerian contexts, we have seen an artist like Olamide suffer numerous bans for many of the lines in his songs, however, suggesting he could be arrested is a reach and while Kahiu will likely never see her bans overturned, arresting her would be an uphill battle for Kenyan authorities.