Kenyan Judge Grants Temporary Ban Lift For Wanuri Kahiu's Lesbian Love Story 'Rafiki,' Making The Film Eligible For Academy Award

September 21st 2018

This month, Rafiki director Wanuri Kahiu took the Kenyan Film Classification Board to court for banning her film for its same-sex romance. Thankfully, Kahiu can celebrate her victory--the court has ruled in her favor, granting a temporary lift on the country's ban. The ban now allows the film to be screened in the country, making it eligible to be considered for the Best Foreign Language Film category by the Academy.

BuzzFeed reported Justice Wifrida Okwany said in her ruling, "I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film," and that artistically showing homosexuality, and homosexuality itself, "did not begin with Rafiki."

Kahiu's lead attorney, Dudley Ochiel, told BuzzFeed the Rafiki ruling "is a win for the freedom of expression and artistic creativity in Kenya," adding that he felt Okwany "understood the issues and also questioned the justification of a total ban, including for Kenyan audiences."

The Kenyan Film Classification Board released its statement in disagreement with the ruling via Twitter.

"We wish to state that the Board has not been served with the orders but will fully comply once served," the Board wrote in a statement, adding that according to their lawyers, the ban "has been lifted for only seven (7) days to end of September 2018 and screening restricted to ADULTS ONLY."

"It is a sad moment and a great insult, not only to the film industry but to all Kenyans who stand for morality, that a film that glorifies homosexuality is allowed to be the country's branding tool abroad," the Board wrote. They also added this opinion: "The attempt to normalize homosexuality is therefore akin to air conditioning hell."

Regardless of what the Board said, Kahiu had already begun preparing for an eventual win. According to Kahiu from a WhatsApp conversation with BuzzFeed, she and her team had already started looking for local theaters to screen the film, "just in case" they won.

by Monique Jones on September 21st 2018

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