Kenya’s film ‘Rafiki’, by celebrated filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu, has earned an estimated 3.3 million shillings in the seven days it has been aired in the Kenyan cinemas beating Hollywood films such as ‘Night school’.
The film ‘Rafiki’ had earlier been banned from airing as it was reported to be promoting homosexuality. The ban by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) drove Wanuri Kahiu to the courts to have it lifted so that it could be considered for Oscar’s entry.
To qualify as Kenya’s entry under the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2019 Academy Awards, it must have been first released in Kenya.
The term ‘Rafiki’ means friend in Swahili language and the film was the first Kenyan to premiere at the Cannes film festival. It is adapted from an award-winning short story by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko, ‘Jambula Tree’. The film which is based on lesbianism love was however banned in April, a move that seems to have marketed it among Kenyans contributing to the heavy turnout in Cinema halls.
Trushna Patel of Crimson Media, Rafiki’s Kenyan distributor, is quoted as comparing the audience at cinemas during the seven-day release with that of the Black Panther released earlier this year.
“Thank you so much to all of you who came out and watched the film. Thank you for celebrating Kenyan films with us! We are grateful. As we return to the courts to argue for freedom of expression, we carry you with us,” Wanuri Kahiu spoke hinting on the continuation of a court battle.
The film is expected to hit screens in more than 20 countries and is currently in cinemas across Belgium and France.