Kena is a teen living in the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya. Her day-to-day consists of working her dad’s kiosk and kicking around a soccer ball with her boys. Ziki is a bubbly school girl who practices dance routines with her girls. Their paths cross, and the two form an inexorable bond. Amid a community of haves and have-nots, bullies and gossips, macho boys and flirtatious girls, they attempt to drown out the noise and find themselves starting a romance. While a gay love story may seem innocuous, filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu risked everything to tell it, as RAFIKI was banned in Kenya. Yet, despite the gravity of its context within Kenyan culture, the film is as delightful and colorful as Ziki’s rainbow braids. –Eric Moore
Born in Nairobi, Wanuri Kahiu is part of the new generation of African storytellers. In 2008, she completed her first feature film FROM A WHISPER, based on the real-life events surrounding the twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. The film won numerous awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. Kahiu was named a TED Fellow in 2017 and World Economic Forum cultural leader in 2018.
Maxwell Q. Wolkin