On the lively, colorful Nairobi streets of the Slopes, two young daughters of local political opponents fall for each other despite the dangers if their controversial romance were to be discovered.
Bursting with life, co-writer/director Wanuri Kahiu (FROM A WHISPER) introduced the rousing and bustling Nairobi neighborhood dubbed “The Slopes” to international audiences during this year’s Cannes Un Certain Regard competition, where the film opened and closed to standing ovations. Previously banned in her home country of Kenya for its portrayal of a romance between two young women, RAFIKI is a love letter to the director’s home as well as condemnation of its oppressive taboos. As tomboy Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) skates down her neighborhood streets, she can’t help but notice the radiating, rainbow-braided Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) among a group of girls. Although treated like one of the boys at gossip-queen Mama Atim’s soda shop, Kena is afraid to divulge her feelings for Ziki to best friend Blacksta (Neville Misati), who often mentions the idea of marriage. But when Ziki makes the first move, Kena falls into a whirlwind of love despite both of their fathers’ being political opponents in an upcoming race, a symbol of the perceived differences between affluent and less fortunate Kenyans. Making a statement on the rich, multifaceted, and complex identities and roles of Kenyan women despite repression by the Kenyan government, filmmaker Kahiu proves that in the end, freedom and love do triumph.
CAST: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva
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