Untamed Talks: Banning of Rafiki a step back for our film industry

Categories CHRONICLES, untamed

by David Mwenda

This week Ezekiel Mutua the chairman of the KFCB is back on the headlines and it was not for any good reason well from my point of view.  Let me go through this very quickly.

Rafiki a film that was set to premiere at the Cannes Festival was banned. Reason it had very explicit content; but that is an understatement apparently it portrays what is not African Culture and should therefore be banned.

Let me give you a back story to this movie. The movie puts two female characters that fall in love. The film seeks to put out the fact that is already there and has very limited discussion in Africa. I do not agree with the whole team at KCFB did and here is why I think so.

For starters KFCB has always done this kind of stuff. It is not the first time that they banned a movie and made it popular in Kenya. In 2014 they banned Wolf of Wall Street and made it a very famous film in Kenya. In 2016 they forced Coca Cola from putting a kissing scene in their Kenyan advert and made them take it off.

When the movie was banned it came as a surprise to many and a shock to a lot of creatives. Myself I have written about homosexuality couple of times with different perspectives. Most of my friends have asked me why I write a lot about it and well I believe that I have a duty to articulate issues in our society.

However here we are not talking about just homosexuality but that for the first time a movie that was set to premiere on the world stage has come out  and has been banned putting the Kenyan film industry back to the drawing board.

For starters, Dr Mutua needs to understand that when he bans such stuff he is just giving it some publicity. The whole idea of banning things on TV or overall content everywhere is sorry to say old and the KFCB should look for new ways of punishing film makers.

Though KFCB is trying to make sure they have done some good job they should consider doing something else. For instance they need to focus on making sure they have made people with great content in Kenya can find the best place to shoot their movies and films. It is no doubt that KFCB has sat down and watched us lose a lot of money in tourism to countries which lower the rates for actors from outside to shoot their films. They haven’t sat down with members of the film industry and tried and asked them what they want just that. What do they want? The many conferences they have they have done nothing to make sure actors can earn a better living.

It is sad to creatives, Wanuri Kahiu, the director of Rafiki was disappointed by the KFCB handled this mess. It is very sad for creatives (writers, actors and musicians) who want to talk about issues and articulate those with their art can be denied this privilege. The whole idea of making creatives being boxed into making films of children and teachers should be dropped. The whole idea is distasteful that Africans will continue making all family films because “explicit sex scenes” which is normally sex  cannot be aired and soaps which have much worse content can be put on air. It is just outrageous.

If you happened to support the film being banned on the line that it is not African then you should think about your life choices. I say this respectively though. For one I don’t subscribe to that because I honestly find is as claptrap. For ages we as Africans have hid behind the premise that we are Africans and we can’t do that or Christ did not do it so I won’t support you. First of all African culture died ages ago the only time we remember it is when we will get money out of it or when it is politically right to remember it. If our ancestors listened to you say it when you defend your stance on gay rights he would turn in his grave because you are the first person to give a bribe to a driver when you find convenient.

It is now time that African artistes made sure they have come out of their judgmental stools and make sure they have done something great. Let’s face it people there are gay people out there and saying that “they should be killed does not help in any way.” In fact you are just giving them some more leeway. They will even continue making more noise to be included in more spaces. If anything treat them like any other person; a person who deserves to be given a chance in society and not shun them.

Finally as I finish someone once told me that it is not in our place to judge and it is also not in our place to use our powers to influence decisions. Dr Mutua should consider this and not use his position to influence the decisions at KFCB as it is public position. He should instead make sure that he has done something to better the film industry other than watch TV and ban thing because he wants to be the moral police of Kenya.