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Actress in Banned Lesbian Love Story 'Rafiki' Honored at Festival

Lesbian 'Rafiki' Actress Honored By African Film Fest

It's the latest honor for the Kenyan film, which remains the subject of court fights in homeland.

A film about two Kenyan women in love, currently banned in Kenya, was able to capture the top award at the Fescapo film festival.

Samantha Mugatsia, who stars in Rafiki, won the Panafrican festival's award for Best Actress. It's the latest honor for the celebrated lesbian film that remains in legal turmoil in Kenya.

Director Wanuri Kahiu released a statement on Twitter.

"Winning Best Actress for RAFIKI at FESPACO is monumental. It is not only a recognition of Kenya's artistry and adds Kenya to the history of African cinema, but a huge recognition of Freedom of Expression within Africa," she said.

"We have the RIGHT to tell our stories, because they are precisely that -- OURS. We have the RIGHT to have all voices heard because they are OURS. We have the RIGHT to create, because that's how we share our humanity with the rest of the world."

Rafiki already became the first Kenyan film to show at Cannes. And while it was banned by Kenya's Film and Classification Board, the board lifted a ban to allow seven sold-out showings of the film, which then allowed the movie to be nominated for an Academy Award.

This happened after Kahiu brought a case to court, which she says she's still fighting. The case, she says, is a fight for her right to expression in a country that bans homosexuality by law, according to her own Twitter.

The film tells the story of two Kenyan lesbians who fall in love and must face the choice between safety in their own country and being with one another.

Mugatsia plays main character Kena.

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