The AfroBubblegum production “Rafiki” has received lots of acclaims ahead of its worldwide release. The movie was recently announced part of the official selection for the UN Certain Regard Festival de Cannes to the celebration of many Kenyans.
However, it seems the story line of the movie may have gone against the grain in what is termed as Kenyan popular culture. According to Pulselive “Kenya Film Classification Board prohibited the distribution, exhibition, and broadcast of ‘Rafiki’ stating that the film’s lesbian nature went against the Kenyan law.” In a press conference, it’s officials stated “Rafiki has homosexual scenes counter to the law, the culture and the moral values of the Kenyan people. It seeks to legitimize lesbian romance.”
After its unprecedented ban, discussions still prevail over the importance of the film. Here are 3 reasons why “Rafiki” ‘s contribution to Kenyan pop culture is essential at this time.
1.It carries a message worth telling
The trailer that was released 5 days ago, is a display of the movie’s intricate plotlines and high-quality production. However, the most central part of the film is its message. A story of love that knows no gender, the main characters of “Kena” and “Ziki” see their friendship evolve into love in a society that sees their connection as taboo. Kenya’s perception of homosexuality is labeled as perverse, inhuman and deviant. This movie humanizes the story of love between same-gender individuals. The approach could be essential in changing perceptions and creating a loving, inclusive society.
2.The movie offers great production value
Wanuri Kahui, the director of “Rafiki” is no rookie when it comes to movie production. With a number of movies under her belt including “Pumzi,” “From a Whisper” and many more, she has honed her skills in storytelling. Through her work, Wanuri endeavors to change the dull, sad image of Africa to the diaspora. And “Rafiki” is just an extension of what Africa can be to the world. The production work is just but a display of what Kenyans can produce. This movie is an essential display of our capabilities that need to be not only acknowledged but celebrated.
3. Rafiki’s could be a gateway to the growth of an industry
Kenya is often compared to other major film industries on the continent. Sadly, against the giant industries of Nollywood and Bongo films, Kenya falls far behind. Though we may possess the talent, strict regulation and low capital power, Kenya’s film industry continue to slip through the cracks. Showing this film could catapult the industry, to gain more investors and increase the number of productions from Kenya. Disappointed by the ban, it is clear that many Kenyans are keen on having more Kenyan productions available to them. It is key to creating employment for the youth and is paramount to growing our struggling economy.
As of now, it is unclear if and when the movie will be released. However, it seems that Wanuri is adamant that the film should be seen, and so do many in the Kenyan public. It is imperative that we should not let this story disappear into the atmosphere, with little to no impact.