Kenyan judge Wilfrida Okwany temporarily allowed the lesbian film, Rafiki, to show in its native country, Kenya, for seven days. And, on Sunday, more than 450 people showed up at the Nairobi Prestige Cinema to see it. Directed by Wanuri Kahiu, Rafiki was the first Kenyan film to ever premiere at Cannes, and it received critical acclaim. Still, it was banned in the East African country for “promoting lesbianism,” as homosexuality is prohibited under Kenyan law.
The judge decided to lift the ban for a week in order for the film to qualify for the 2019 Academy Awards under the foreign language film category, as one of the stipulations is that a movie is shown in its home country for at least seven days. The public and cinematographers celebrated the judge’s decision, but the Kenyan censorship board wasn’t as pleased. In a statement, the board condemned the ruling as a, “great insult, not only to the film industry, but to all Kenyans who stand for morality.”
Rafiki, which means friend in Swahili, tells of the romance between two young women amid political and societal disapproval, inspired by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko’s, Jambula Tree. The film had such strong demand that Prestige Cinema had to add an impromptu second screening, and it has added showtimes for the rest of the week.
Watch the trailer below: