Constructing Teen Identity On-Screen: Rafiki12A

Constructing Teen Identity On-Screen: Rafiki

Book Tickets

Click a time to book tickets

Share This Page


  • Thu 11 Jul
  • 82 minutes
  • Director: Wanuri Kahiu
  • Cast: Samantha Mugatsia, Neville Misati, Nice Githinji, Charlie Karumi, Muthoni Gathecha, Vitalis Waweru
  • Kenya (2018)


"I want to travel first, I want to see the world and to go to all those places where they've probably never seen an African and just show up there and be like, yo, I'm here and I'm a Kenyan!'' - Ziki

Set in Kenya, Wanuri Kahiu's Rafiki is the story of star crossed lovers Ziki (Sheila Munyviva) and Kena (Samantha Mugatsia). Both are daughters of political opponents who meet in the midst of an election. Opposites in almost every way, Ziki and Kena are united by their ambition to be different to their mothers; they don't want to live the life of typical Kenyan wives. The onscreen chemistry between Ziki and Kena  is palpable as they stumble their way through flourishes of first love and societal pressures to conform. This often traumatic tale of a forbidden love is equally vibrant and joyous with the bond between these two foregrounding all else around it. This is testament to Kahiu's belief in creating a alternative vision of Africa opposed to the depiction Western outlets purvey. This lead her to found Afrobubblegum; a platform promoting “fun work that celebrates the joy, love and happiness of Africa.”

Rafiki remains one for the few coming of age stories depicting queer life in Africa and was banned in Kenya for its supposed "clear intent to promote lesbianism." Kahiu is a director unafraid of touching upon politicised topics; her previous work includes From a Whisper (2008) focusing on the personal consequences of terrorism and the Afrofuturist Pumzi (2009) which imagines the future for Africa after an environmental crisis.

About Constructing Teen Identity On-Screen: How to we construct female-identifying teen characters on screen? Mainstream cinema is notorious for shallow and one dimensional presentations of female identity. In this programme we will explore the complex character presentations of young women on screen.

DISPATCH FMI is an intersectional feminist moving image curatorial practice and online platform with a focus on works created by women. Our aim is to bring feminist cinema and theory to all by making our screenings accessible, affordable, and educational.

Programme supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network, funded by the National Lottery.