Rafiki (Swahili for friend) is a 2018 Kenyan drama film directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It is the story of friendship and tender love that grows between two young women, Kena and Ziki, amidst family and political pressures around LGBT rights in Kenya. The film had its international premiere in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival; it was the first Kenyan film to be screened at the festival.
Rafiki was banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) "due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law". The Board asked the film director to change the ending, as it was too hopeful and positive. Kahiu refused, which led to the ban of the film. The KFCB warned that anyone found in possession of the film would be in breach of the law in Kenya, where gay sex is punishable by 14 years in jail. The ban raised international outrage by the supporters of LGBT rights.
The film's director, Wanuri Kahiu, sued Kenya's government, to allow the film to be screened and become eligible to be submitted as Kenya's entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. On 21 September 2018, the Kenyan High Court lifted the ban on the film, allowing it to be screened in the country for seven days, therefore meeting the eligibility requirements. After the ban was lifted, the film was shown to a sold-out crowd at a cinema in Nairobi. Despite the ban being lifted, it was not selected as Kenya's submission in the Foreign Language Film category, with Supa Modo being sent instead.
At the 2019 FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou, Samantha Magatsia won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of Kenya.
From May 23d, Rafiki will be screened in Amsterdam, Alkmaar and Maastricht.
Watch the trailer here.
See the screenings list here.