‘Rafiki’ a masterful queer work of art

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Rafiki is a feast for the eye that captures so much of African beauty, prejudice and love that you will not be able to help but tear up several times.


It was surreal to experience this film and feel so utterly connected to it. On the one hand because I am queer and know the struggles of falling in love for the first time whilst constantly wondering when someone is going to find you out and send you to the gallows for a hetero hanging. On the other hand, because I am an African (albeit a powdery white one) who feels connected to this continent and knows and loves girls similarly beautiful and queer to the leads in this movie.

Director Wanuri Kahiu is a genius, and together with producer Steven Markovitz, they have created a queer love story that keeps you on the edge of your seat rooting for the two Kenyan politicians’ daughters to fall in love while also constantly fearing the moment they get caught.

The film lures you in with stunning, colourful cinematography that celebrates the African aesthetic and then uses the extremely well-cast Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva to warm even the deepest caverns of your heart with their sweet youthful love story.

The characterisation is spot-on and you find yourself faced with many of the people you have come across living your life in Africa. Not that they are stereotypical, they are simply relatable and accurate. Everyone should see this film with an open heart and mind, and if they do that and still walk out feeling nothing, they’re hopeless.

The plot revolves around Kena and Ziki, the daughters of two small-time politicians in Kenya as they are faced with the religious and political pressures surrounding gay rights in the country. The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and was the first Kenyan film to do so.

An absolute must-see. Do not miss it. Do not download it illegally. Let’s get those box-office figures soaring!

Rafiki (meaning friend in Swahili) hits South African cinemas on 30 August 2019.


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