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Friday, May 24, 2024

Rafiki Review: African LGBT Movie Brings Light To An Old Story

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Cannes Review: ”Banned in its home country, Wauri Kahiu’s tale of two teenagers’ secret relationship is a fine – if conventional – depiction of the first flush of love.”

Making a grand entry into Cannes, Wanuri Kahiu’s lesbian teen romance Rafiki, has continued to spark major debate across the globe as it becomes the first Kenyan film to be selected for the festival. Although the movie has since been banned by the country’s film classification board, it, however, did not stop it from sending its message out there and as it is, the message is being heard and received by all and sundry across the world. Rafiki, was banned by Kenya’s film board for its crystal clear homosexual theme and promotion of lesbian love in the nation which will have none of the homosexual love within its confines.

contrary to the law and dominant values of the Kenyans”.Katiu’s film did an awesome job embarking on this remarkable risk-taking as she is from a country that does not protect homosexuals and has a 14-year term sentence for sodomy. Rafiki starts Samantha Mugatsia stars as Kena, a tomboyish teen born to a John, a local shopkeeper who is also running for a political office in the nation. Kena, is seen with her friend Blacksta in their provincial Kenyan hometown awaiting her result which determines  of she will begin training as a nurse. Kena also works for her father who is separated from Kena’s mother, a scripture teacher. Kena’s mother on her part is struggling with her breakup with John and is beyond mortified to learn that John’s new partner is expecting a child. Kena on her own part is already aware of the pregnancy as she has already been told by the town gossip Mama Atim, whose daughter has eyes for Blacksta; who in turn only wants to be with Kena.In an early scene in the movie,  we witness Blacksta’s once cheerful enough friend  viciousiously embark on a homophobic tirade at a young gay man, while Kena and Blacksta try their best to act as if nothing is happening. Kena, somehow sighted Ziki played by actress Sheila Munyiva,  a blunt flamboyant girl donning rainbow coloured braids and as if things could not get worse, turns out to the daughter of  Kena’s father’s election rival. Kena and Ziki strike a friendship that soon blossomed into something deeper as kisses soon began to be while they were at clubs together and at the abandoned camper van which soon became their haven. Ziki, on her part, wants them to come out with their relationship while Kena, who is calmer would not have this as she advised they be more cautious. as she prefers they be wary of the likes of Mama Atim, preaches caution. The spur made love, a scene that Kahiu carefully illustrated maybe to avoid provoking the nations classification board.

Time stands still when Kena and Ziki get together, and more impressionistic. Katiu from time to time shows us tender touches or quiet moments between both lovebirds as their nervous conversing often just float over a dialogue, Katiu seems not to be so bothered about as it sometimes does not. Sone of the movie’s strongest moment was a conversation between the girls which sees them talking about how they want their future to be with Ziki having dreams of traveling “someplace where they’ve never seen an African,” and both agreeing they do not want to be “ordinary Kenyan girls,” as their love-filled gazes into each other’s eyes become furtive kisses and embraces. The intimate scenes are sometimes straining and a bit nervous but again being in a nation that does not in the least protect gays, one would expect the nervous intimate scenes, scenes Katiu carefully shot may be to steer clear of upsetting the classification board but again, it did not stop them from banning the movie. For years on end, a tale of such forbidding love have been untold and Rafiki tried to steer clear the usual reactions of past brief encounters. Even though Kahiu’s film As we are in a world that does an awesome job tagging relationships like Kena and Ziki’s as abnormal, Rafiki’s logic with her conventional framing is just perfect as it ensures to pass the message of love, making it clear that to win a hostile audiences over, one needs to make use of familiar framework, a framework she nailed.  Photo Credit: Getty

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