Time to let go of archaic laws that restrict artistic freedom

Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu with Kenyan actresses Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva on May 9, 2018 during a photocall for the film "Rafiki" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. PHOTO | FILE | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Works of art are best regulated by audience members in terms of their consumption behaviour, not at the level of the artist’s imagination.
  • The state regulator can provide guidelines on how, when, and where a work of art can be disseminated in order to cater for certain sensitivities.
  • Recognising the crucial role of the arts in social transformation, the drafters of the Constitution of Kenya, at Article 33, secured freedom of artistic creativity, alongside academic freedom and the freedom of scientific research.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, film maker Wanuri Kahiu and the Creative Working Group went to court to challenge the banning of Rafiki, a film on love and relationships, by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB). In banning the film, KFCB relied on the Films and Stage Plays Act (Cap 222), a piece of legislation passed in 1962 by the colonial government to limit artistic and cultural works in post-colonial Kenya.

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