Pulse.ng logo

#AkeFest18 Rafiki, the Kenyan movie about lesbian love, is coming to Ake Festival!

Barely hours after the ban was lifted on Rafiki showing in Kenya, the director of #AkeFest announced that it will be screened at the festival in October.

  • Published:

Ake Arts and Book Festival is one of the most anticipated literary festivals in Nigeria, and Africa. This year, Rafiki, the Kenyan movie about lesbian love, will be screening at the festival.

Rafiki is a Kenyan movie centred around lesbian love in Kenya, directed by storyteller Wanuri Kahiu. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. However, due to the fact that homosexuality is illegal in the country, the Kenyan government banned the film because of intent to "promote lesbianism," in the country.

The statement from Kenya's Film and Classification Board (KFCB) said, "The film has been restricted due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law."

The director filed a lawsuit challenging the board's decision as a violation of "her constitutional right to free speech and free expression as an artist". On September 22, the judge ruled in favour of the film, but only with a temporary lifting of the ban for seven days to allow the film to be submitted for the Oscars. The judge said she was“not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film”

The film was allowed to be shown to willing adults in two cinemas in Kenya from September 23-29.


The ruling was welcomed with great joy from notable names such as Lupita Nyong'o, Nnedi Okorafor, and director of Ake Festival, Lola Shoneyin.


Shoneyin used the opportunity to announce that the film will be screening at this year's version of the festival. She spoke to CNN about her reasons for bringing the film to Nigeria: "The Ake Arts & Book Festival is all about developing, promoting and...celebrating all aspects of our culture but especially the core arts. We heard about the film and some of the controversy and we think that it's important that it's screened at this festival which...was established to encourage people to ask questions about what it means to be an African."


The film is a story that needs to be told, especially at a great literary festival like Ake, as it was inspired by the 2007 Caine Prize short story winner "Jambula Tree" by Ugandan writer, Monica Arac Nyeko.

Ake Book and Arts festival is all about promoting & celebrating African creativity with literature, art, theatre, film, dance, poetry, bookchats, panels. This year, it will be holding between October 25-28.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +2349055172167, Social Media @pulsenigeria247: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng. More information here.