African lesbian romance Rafiki gets boosted in Cannes, banned in Kenya

CANNES, FRANCE—In Rafiki, the film that Kenya doesn’t want you to see, a lesbian romance begins with a chaste date to go out and have soda pop, just like stereotypical couples of the 1950s.

The story doesn’t get much more explicit than that. It hardly seems the stuff of outraged moral guardians, threats of jailing and an outright ban on the film in Kenya, especially in 2018.

Yet that is the current reality for Wanuri Kahiu’s bittersweet romancer, which was greeted with strong applause at its world premiere Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, as the first film from Kenya to be programmed in the fest’s Official Selection. It’s screening in the auteur-driven Un Certain Regard section, which has its own competition apart from the Palme d’Or contest.

The fact Rafiki even got out of…

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