Kenya Lifts Rafiki Ban; Audiences Cheer at First Screening in Nairobi

Photo: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu’s film Rafiki is allowed to be shown in Kenya for seven days to “willing adults” after a high court ruling temporary lifted the country’s ban on the film. Audiences in Nairobi seemed more than willing, as cheers erupted during Sunday afternoon’s sold out screening of the film, according to The Guardian. Prestige Cinema, which is showing the film during daytime-only screenings, even added a second theater to accommodate the more than 450 people who arrived. The Kenya Film Classification Board had previously banned the film, alleging that it “promotes lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law.”

Being banned from screening in its home country meant that the film could not submit for Oscar consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category, due to the Academy requiring that all submissions be screened for at least seven days in their countries of origin. This rule motivated a lawsuit by Kahiu claiming damage to her career, and the high court agreed, temporarily lifting the ban to allow for Kahiu to meet the requirements to submit her film.

Kenya Lifts Rafiki Ban; Audiences Cheer at First Screening