Wanuri Kahiu, a film producer and director has sued the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and its CEO Ezekiel Mutua for infringing on her right as they banned her film Rafiki.
Wanuri alongside the Creative Economy Working Group (CEWG) have filed a constitutional petition challenging 12 sections of the Film and Stage Plays Act, Cap 222, which the Board relies upon to ban films in the country.
“Sections of the Films and Stage Plays Act, CAP 222 are a threat to free speech and media freedom. They limit the freedom of artists to impart information and restrict freedom of artistic creativity, contrary to the constitutional limits of freedom of expression”, said Wanuri.
Two days ago, the Board banned James Muigai aka DJ Afro content on Gikuyu TV. Last year, it banned Sauti Sol’s video Melanin saying the “video is gross and not suitable for children. It also objectifies women under the guise of black beauty”. It had also banned their other video Nishike in the country among many others including posters.
On the Rafiki film, the Board said it contained offensive classifiable elements as it promoted homosexuality.
Adapted from ‘Jambula Tree’ by Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko, ‘Rafiki’ follows the story of two young girls who have a romantic relationship but is strongly condemned and opposed by their families and community.
Filed under a certificate of urgency, the petitioners want the application to suspend the Rafiki lifted pending hearing and determination of the petition. They want the Court to grant a Conservatory Order allowing the lifting of the ban to enable the Oscars Selection Committee Kenya to consider the film for entry to the Academy for the Best Foreign Language Film category award at the 2019 Oscars. Without lifting the ban, the film cannot be considered for selection. The entries close on 30th September, 2018.
Commenting the Oscars, Wanuri said it is about the freedom for all industry players to tell the stories they want to tell and not to be censored. “The world is quickly becoming a village and the film industry is worth more than USD 30 billion globally. The opportunities for more Kenyans especially the youth to participate in this sector is immense. We should not let colonial laws stop us from achieving this.”
Justice Wilfrida Okwany who is hearing the case asked parties to exchange written submissions and responses within three days and go before her next week Wednesday, 19th of September.