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50 shades of grey banned in Kenya

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) is at it again with yet another ludicrous ban of a box office film. The regulatory board has now restricted the much awaited sensual movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, which is set to premier on Valentine’s Day.

“The board wishes to inform the public, film operators and stakeholders that the film, 50 Shades of Grey has been restricted. It should not be screened or distributed to the public,” a statement from the board said.

The film is an adaptation of the erotic trilogy novel, 50 Shades of Grey, by British author E. L. James. The story revolves around the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. 50 Shades of Grey is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM).


When a film is restricted it means, that it cannot be screened on any cinema or even distributed by movie vendors and anyone who defies this law risks prosecution.

However, banning movies in Kenya has proven to yield the exactly opposite results of the classification board’s intention. Instead of curtailing the audience to the respective films, restriction only arouses curiosity and the action ends up giving the film free publicity.

Kenyans are known for their peculiar habits and one these is the love for forbidden things, they will outdo each to get their hands on the prohibited merchandise not just out of curiosity, but because we can.

Last year, KFCB banned the film Wolf of Wall Street on grounds of “extreme scenes of nudity, sex, alcohol, drug taking and profanity” and to say that the film sold as hot cake would actually be an understatement.

“Thanks once again for making us aware of the existence of this film. Just like you did with the The Wolf of Wall Street, I am now downloading this new one, to see what it is you did not want us to see.,” one Kenyan, Wambũgũ Gĩthuuri, wrote on KFCB’s Facebook page.

Again, the ban provides a window of business opportunity for movie vendors who will sell the film ‘chini ya maji’ Kenyan slang for under cover, at a higher price. After all its forbidden and the demand is high. The only persons who stand who lose are cinemas who will miss out on revenue collected from screenings.

The Kenya film classification board might argue that it’s just doing its job but it’s absurd to imagine that in this century it can determine what adults should or shouldn’t watch. Rating films to restrict age would be more practical than complete censorship because it will always be futile in Kenya.


Winnie Kabintie


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