Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu already inspired youth culture tremendously when she released the 2018 film RAFIKI, the riveting tale of two young women in love, in a country where gay sex is still considered illegal. But when the Kenyan Film Board banned it for release and distribution, Kahiu agitated again by vowing to fight back. Making art for a marginalized community was one thing; RAFIKI was the first Kenyan feature film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and it further cemented Kahiu—who is already a seasoned creator and co-founder of the media company AFROBUBBLEGUM—as a big league filmmaker. But late last year, Kahiu and a handful of Kenyan artists decided to take actual legal action, filing a lawsuit against the Film Classification Board for the ban.
“I don’t necessarily consider myself an activist; I truly consider myself a storyteller,” Kahiu said in a September 2018 interview with Vanity Fair. “But when somebody starts to infringe on your rights to be creative and exercise your work, that becomes a problem. That’s when we decided to push back and take the Classification Board to court.” Activist or not, Kahiu’s bravery to push against the status quo has not gone unnoticed by the young people of Kenya. With her art—and her protest—she is saying no more to oppression and intolerance, which will ultimately create safer spaces for the generation that comes after her.