Despite only being temporarily re-instated for a week in Kenya, the lesbian love story Rafiki has managed to top the nation’s box office, even beating Hollywood films such as The Nun and Night School.
The internationally acclaimed movie, which was finally allowed to be played in Kenyan cinemas from the 23rd to the 29th of September in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, exclusively to an adults-only audience, has become the second highest grossing Kenyan film of all time.
According to local media reports, more than 6500 people went to see the film during its limited week-long run, with people evening being turned away, due to capacity issues, despite cinemas adding additional screenings.
“Thank you so much to all of you who came out and watched the film,” said Wanuri Kahiu, the film’s director and co-producer, on Twitter.
“Thank you for celebrating Kenyan film with us! We are so grateful,” Kahiu Added.
Wanuri Kahiu, the film’s director and co-producer, who took Kenya’s Film Classification Board (KFCB) to court following the film’s ban in April 2018, shortly before it was screened at Cannes, thanked Kenyans for supporting the film.
“Thank you so much to all of you who came out and watched the film. Thank you for celebrating Kenyan film with us! We are so grateful,” Kahiu said via Twitter.
Following Kahiu’s legal action, Kenya’s High Court finally agreed to temporarily lift the ban on the film and to give it the opportunity to be selected as Kenya’s official entry to the Oscars.
Following on from the success of the film at the local box office, the film’s producers will return to court to argue for Rafiki to be unbanned permanently. “The success of the theatrical release proves that there is a strong commercial market for Rafiki in Kenya,” said one of Rafiki’s producers, Steven Markovitz.
“We intend to take this film to other African countries to continue to build the case that quality African films are commercially viable on our own continent. The film will be re-released in Kenya when permanently unbanned,” he added.
Rafiki has since been screened at festivals all around the world and recently opened in cinemas in France and Belgium.