For me it’s the irony that floored me; a section of Kenyans and content creators were on a very spirited campaign to get former Kenya Film Classification Board boss, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, for being ‘Deputy Jesus’ and they succeeded, only to replace him with seemingly a reloaded version of him.
Only yesterday, social media platforms erupted after the new KFCB Chief Executive Officer Chris Wambua banned another film I am Samuel. This comes hot on the heels of Mombasa High Court throwing out a petition seeking to lift a similar ban that had been imposed on a film with a LGBTQ theme, Rafiki.
The latter was a 2018 film directed by Wanuri Kahiu and was banned for portraying same-sex romance between the main actresses. It was the first film from Kenya to be screened at the Cannes Film Festivals in 2018 and was also headed for submission at the Oscars before its unceremonious ban.
The banning of the I am Samuel movie comes in the wake of its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.
In a statement released on September 23, KFCB described the movie as not suitable for a Kenyan audience as it attempts to normalize same –sex marriage which goes against the constitution in Kenya.
The board was emphatic that the film, which was a Toni Kamau production and directed by Pete Murimi, violated Article 165 of the Penal code and the Films and Stage Plays Act Cap 222, which frowns on homosexuality. Additionally, they found the film as going against tenets of Christianity.
“The production is demeaning of Christianity as two gay men in the film purport to conduct a religious marriage invoking the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. On the basis of religion as a classifiable element, the Board finds the documentary not only blasphemous but also an attempt to use religion to advocate same-sex marriage,” read a part of the statement.
Additionally, the board said that the film violates Article 45 of the constitution which recognises the family as the basic unit of society. According to the statement, the board saw the film attempting to influence viewers into believing that the older generation is now okay with LGBTQ+ community and is now accepting the practice of same-sex marriages.
“On this score, any film or broadcast content appearing to legalise, advocate, normalise or glorify the act contravenes the laws of our land. The documentary is, therefore, unacceptable and an affront to our culture and identity, ” read a part of the statement
According to the board, the documentary could easily expose vulnerable groups such as children, to unsuitable content.
“While adults may have a right to choose what they consume within the parameters of the law, children and other vulnerable groups are at risk of being corrupted by such inappropriate content.”
Here is what some people had to say about the issue,
“Those claiming we should leave gays alone because ‘we all sin differently’, what then is the point of having police officers, courts, judges, and prisons? Let’s free all prisoners including murderers and rapists because they also sinned differently,” said Ikraan Abdulkarim
“We can’t copy everything from foreigners,” said Kibet Benard
“Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya. We need to preserve our culture and our protect children from exposure to harmful content,” said Lawrence Kitema
“We didn’t need a film to exist and thrive, we were born and already exist and Kenya belongs to all of us. Live your lives of “morals” no one is changing your ways so let us enjoy our ways! Bible and constitution imported but homosexuality is a no-no,” pointed out a user called Jayden
Dr. Ezekiel Mutua is gone but it looks like the same problems will still prevail and all stakeholders should go back to the drawing board as it is no longer about personalities but about fundamental and emerging issues that need to be addressed.
The fact remains that these are changing times and the content shown or written about is a reflection of what is happening in society. This, therefore, means that all stakeholders should stop chest-thumping and listen to each other and not speak at each other with all religious, secular, contemporary matters included.
Finally, the law was made for man and not man for law so let us keep the conversations going until we get an amicable solution to favor such content creators, consumers, and regulators.