Rafiki actress Samantha Mugatsia has won the Best Actress award from Burkina Faso’s Fespaco Film Festival, Africa’s largest film festival.

Mugatsia won for her role as Kena, one half of a couple in love despite the homophobia present in their community. The film also stars Sheila Munyiva as Ziki, Kena’s girlfriend.

As we have documented on S&A, Rafiki was banned in Kenya due to its subject matter featuring a lesbian couple. Via a lawsuit against the Kenyan government, the film’s director, Wanuri Kahiu, was able to win a temporary lift of the ban so the film could be eligible for Oscars contention.

As Joi Childs wrote for S&A in her TIFF review of the film, “It’s undoubtedly a shame that the film’s home country wasn’t initially willing to acknowledge the beauty of Rafiki‘s depictions of lesbian love and countless other real-life same-sex relationships. Kahiu’s film reinforces that being who you are and loving in spite of the opinions of others is still a revolutionary act.”


TIFF Review: Formerly Banned ‘Rafiki’ Is A Fully Black, Beautiful, Lesbian Love Story

On The History-Making Cannes Selection, ‘Rafiki,’ With Its Director Wanuri Kahiu Alongside Stars Sheila Munyiva And Samantha Mugatsia

‘Rafiki’ Director Wanuri Kahiu Sues Kenya For Banning The Film, Blocking It From Oscar Consideration