In an attempt to preserve the country’s societal values, the Kenyan Film Classification Board(KFCB) banned a documentary that promotes same-sex marriage in a country where more than ‘90 percent’ of the population disagree with the normalization of gay lifestyle.
On Thursday, September 23rd, the film board announced a prohibition on the exhibition, distribution, possession or broadcasting of the film themed “I am Samuel” which portrays a young religious optimistic man in same-sex relationship who got disowned by his family for defying social norms and values.
The Board referred to the documentary as blasphemous and an attempt to use religion to promote same-sex marriage. The board also stated that the film is an affront to the Kenyan constitution which banned same-sex. Similar to many African countries, the Kenyan constitution follows African traditional values when it comes to marriage and family, hence only recognizes marriage as one which exists between a man and woman.
Kenya’s resistance to LBGTQI+ is not news; recall that, in the year 2015 when Obama visited the country and attempted to promote gay right, President Uhuru Kenyatta told him that, “there are some things that we must admit we don’t share—our culture, our societies don’t accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.”
He argued further that the country has other priorities to deal with than the LBGTQ+ that the US was advocating for. “I repeatedly say that, for Kenyans today, the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue…Maybe once, like you have overcome some of these challenges, we can begin to look at new ones.” Kenyatta said.
The totality of these concerns coupled with a strong position to preserve societal values will make it impossible for such content to thrive in Africa, especially as the director stated that he made the said content ‘with the African audience in mind’ and to engage them on LGBTQ+ issues. “We are figuring out next steps for Kenya but we are still ahead with the release for the rest of Africa.” He said.
The film might still face restriction in other African countries especially places where same-sex is culturally and constitutionally outlawed. Earlier this year, two Senegalese male dancers faced public criticism and one month jail time for emulating American musician Lil Nas’ explicit performance during a BET Award Show with another man.
Although Lil Nas receives standing ovations in the US, the Senegalese population detest such acts especially in the public space arguing that kids at home should not be watching ‘a man kissing another man’ on national TV.