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The Society has been showing the best of world and independent cinema in Slough for 70 years

 

13th November 2019 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL

RAFIKI

Kenya/S.Africa/Germany/Netherlands/France/Norway/Lebanon/UK 82 mins Cert.15


Kena Samantha Mugatsia Director Wanuri Kahiu
Ziki Sheila Munyiva Screenplay Wanuri Kahiu
Blacksta Neville Misati Jenna Cato Bass
Nduta Nice Githinji Cinematography Matthieu Laclau
Waireri Charlie Karumi Editor Isabelle Dedieu
Mama Atim Muthoni Gathecha Sound Frédéric Salles
Tom Vitalis Waweru    
Elizabeth Mellen Aura    
John Mwaura Jimmy Gatho    
Mercy Nini Wacera    
Rose Okemi Patricia Amira    
Peter Okemi Denis Musyoka    

Rafiki is both a piece of engaging cinema and a political message. Initially banned from being shown in Kenya by the government for its portrayal of lesbian romance, campaigning and international pressure forRafiki saw talented director Wanuri Kahiu sue the government and have the ban lifted, meaning that Kenyans got to enjoy this touching but accessible tale just as much as foreign festival-goers.

Taking its title from the Swahili term for "friend", Rafiki is a tale of forbidden love that sees the intelligent tomboyish Kena fall in love with the vibrant daughter of her father's political rival, Ziki. With displays of homosexual romance illegal in Kenya, the two kind young women dare to love one another when the world around them tries to keep them apart.

Rafiki poster

Gorgeously shot and with a luminous colour palette, Kahiu has crafted a visually arresting and sensual film, but one laced with innocence.Rafiki is actually a rather simple courtship built on affection and without the overwhelming lust that most mainstream gay romances pursue. To some, this may feel censored, but here and within this context, it feels all the more powerful.

Mugatsia is an engaging presence as Kena, a woman looking to use her intelligence and masculine side to pursue a medical career while her parents fall further apart. Fitting in with the homophobic family and friends she grew up with is working for Kena, but it is Ziki's presence in her life that changes all of that. Munyiva conveys what a free-spirit Ziki is and brings a delightful easy-going tone to the earlier scenes as the two lead characters grow closer.

Amongst the sharp colours and distinctive sounds of Nairobi the two women fall unselfishly and blissfully in love with one another, but forces in their own families and in their culture are intent on undoing their happiness. As the inevitable climax nears, Rafiki does not shy away from the reality of LGBTQ+ lives in Kenya but offers a message of hope and light in the dark.

In a short and sweet manner, this film is a testament to how film can really make a difference and give the marginalized a voice.

Lewis Knight at www.mirror.co.uk