“Rafiki” Filmmaker Won The Court Case Over Her Banned Lesbian Film

Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu has won her court battle against the censorship board that banned her lesbian film.


Kahiu’s Rafiki gained international success and recognition for its depiction of young lesbian love.

The story follows the love and friendship between two young women, Kena and Ziki, while living in the same Nairobi neighborhood. The story folds this love story with political and family drama that seeks to rip the lovers apart.

Again, the film earned global recognition at film premieres and festivals such as Cannes. That said, the movie was not as well received back home.


The Kenya Film Classification Board announced in April that it was banning Rafiki “due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law.”

Sex acts between men are illegal due to Kenyan statues such as Section 163 of the Penal Code, which states, “Any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”

While most rules focus on male homosexuality, lesbian women are often considered under the same scrutiny.

In response to this censorship, Kahiu filed a lawsuit against the board towards the start of September stating that the ban violated her constitutional right to free speech and free expression as an artist.


Now, as Buzzfeed News reports, Kahiu has won her case.


While at the court ruling earlier today, Justice Wilfrida Okwany said, “I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.”

Now that Rafiki has won it’s case, the film can officially place for the Oscars.

Kahiu’s hope was to submit Rafiki for the Best Foreign Language Film category. In order to do so, the film needs to be shown in its home country for at least seven consecutive days.

Now that Kahiu can legally distribute the movie in Kenya, she is already working on getting local theaters to show it in time to meet the deadline.

With a story like Rafiki’s (both on and off the screen), it would be a surprise if the film doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar. Here’s hoping.

h/t: Buzzfeed News

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