Wanuri Kahiu’s “Rafiki” won big at the recently concluded Africa Movies Academy Awards (AMAA 2019). The film won Best Achievement in Editing and Best Film in an African Language. This, out of ten nominations it received in September.
Rafiki, which was released in 2018, is currently embroiled in a court battle with the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) after Wanuri sued the board to lift the ban imposed on it. In a recent tweet, Wanuri announced the screening of Rafiki to a closed audience at Milimani High Court as part of the evidence in the case.
RAFIKI screening done. Judge back on the bench. Judge thanks the people and asks for a few paragraphs to be submitted based on the film. Arguments to be heard on 3rd December.
— Wanuri (@wanuri) October 18, 2019
Despite its unending troubles in Kenya, Rafiki became Kenya’s first feature to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, having amassed over fifteen awards at international film festivals and continues to be recognized worldwide.
It also holds a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was greatly praised by critics with The Guardian, calling it a “ground-breaking lesbian romance”. The Mirror described it as “both a piece of engaging cinema and a political message”, while Variety described it as “modest, flawed and valuable.”
But whether Rafiki’s success in the international stage will have an impact on how it’s perceived in Kenya, and perhaps influence the ruling on its ban remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though, a movie as daring and as loud as Rafiki will not go down without putting up a fight. And the awards like the AMAA win offer a glaring proof to the censorship board, that perhaps to revolutionize the film industry in Kenya, we must disrupt rather than conform.