Rafiki (Africa premiére in Diff)

This story emanates from the Talent Press, an initiative of Talents Durban in collaboration with FIPRESCI and the Goethe-Institut. 

Rafiki, the film which won Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu a standing ovation in Cannes, is a tender and warm love story. Released in 2018, Rafiki dares to break rules and gives voice to young Africans. The film reminds us how love can change one’s life, one’s notion of life and one’s goals too.

But that does not mean that love is easy, especially when it involves two young girls.

Kena and Ziki live in Nairobi. Kena dreams of becoming a nurse after graduation and Ziki wants to travel around the world. While their fathers are involved in the elections, their daughters’ relationship grows increasingly intimate. They make a pact to follow they dream.

In addition to telling a story about two young people who discovering each other, which is already complicated in a country where homophobia is law, Wanuri Kahiu talks about class and what is considered good behavior in the conservative Kenyan society.

Rafiki highlights the clash between a young African generation who aspires to bring about change in their country, and their parents who are stuck politically and otherwise. While the world is focusing on illegal immigration and unemployment issues among young people, Rafiki shows that behind these issues are real people with ambitions, who study and work hard. A generation that aims high and aspires to be true to themselves.

This intimate way of life is also more evident in Rafiki throughout the choice of close up shoots. Wanuri Kahiu plays with light and shadows and communicates intimacy through closeups. This helps us to empathize with her characters, especially when they are falling in their delirium. A heartwarming story, Rafiki also shows how complicated life can be when you are different.