Kenya Lifts Ban on “Rafiki” in Time for Oscars Consideration

The ban has been overturned—but with a twist.

For the first time in Kenya’s history, a ban on a film that “promotes lesbianism” has been lifted—and in time for it to be considered for the Oscars.

Rafiki, a modern romance between two Kenyan women that first made news for its successful (and historic) Cannes premiere, was banned in its home country of Kenya for “promoting lesbianism.” The film’s director, Wanuri Kahiu, initiated a lawsuit against the Kenyan government earlier this month over the ban, hoping to have it lifted before the September 30 Academy Awards submission deadline.

The ban isn’t gone for good, unfortunately: A judge in Kenya’s High Court ruled that it would only be temporarily nixed.

The filmmaker’s refusal to show the characters exhibiting remorse for their sexuality was also understood to be part of the ruling.

Regardless, the Oscars’ consideration rules declare that all nominated films must be shown in their home countries, so even the temporary ban lifting is a major victory (and huge opportunity) for Rafiki.

Writer for NewNowNext, Refinery29, Wear Your Voice, BitchMedia, etc. Budding sex educator. @NerdsOfPreycast cohort. She/Her.