Justice Wilfrida Okwany has today granted conservatory orders, allowing for the showing of Rafiki film to Kenyans, in a decision that safeguards freedom of expression and freedom of artistic creativity.
In her ruling, following an application by filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu and the Creative Economy Working Group (CEWG), she issued orders temporarily lifting the ban on Rafiki until 30th September 2018, pending hearing and determination of the case. The case seeks to challenge the Constitutionality of 12 sections of the Film and Stage Plays Act that the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) relies upon to ban films in the country.
While giving the order, Justice Okwany said “The matter before this court is if a filmmaker can address a gay theme. This theme has been addressed elsewhere and artistic creativity allows artists to stir society. I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that it cannot handle a gay theme”
These 12 sections criminalize free expression through film, limit freedom of film makers to seek, receive or impart information or ideas, restrict freedom of artistic creativity and limit freedom of expression.
“Today is a great day for Kenyan creatives. It is a day to resolutely affirm that only the Constitution is Supreme. The Court has ruled that freedom of expression and freedom of artistic creativity can only be interpreted on the basis of fidelity of the law,” said CEWG Chairman Prof. Kimani Njogu.
Rafiki is a film on love and relationships but the existence of several sections of the Films and Stage Plays Act (Cap 222), a piece of legislation passed in 1962 by the colonial government which do not conform to the current legal framework is a major drawback to artists. Its cultural and artistic context have no place in today’s Kenya.
The conservatory orders will now allow Rafiki to be watched by millions of Kenyans. It will also make it possible for 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.
Kindly find the Wanuri + CEWG petition HERE.
Wanuri Kahiu is a Kenyan film producer and Director. Rafiki is a Kenyan produced film in which she wrote the scripts, co-produced and directed.
Creative Economy Working Group
The Creative Economy Working Group (CEWG) is a consortium of civil society organizations and institutions whose objective is to campaign for the advancement of legislative and policy reform in the creative sector for the advancement of culture, arts and media in Kenya.