Kenya: Censorship board continues to expand its moral policing

6 July 2017
The Kenya Film Certification Board banned 6 US-produced cartoons after they described them as “normalising" and "glorifying homosexual behaviour”.
Photo: Ezekiel Mutua/Facebook


The Kenya Film Certification Board (KFCB) and its CEO, Ezekiel Mutua, continue to limit artists and their work. Most recently, the body banned six US-produced cartoon programmes after Mutua described them as “normalising, glamorising or even glorifying homosexual behaviour”, reported Nairobi News on 22 June 2017.

In a 15 June 2017 statement, KFCB said they had received public complaints about programmes that were “glorifying homosexual behaviour” and “target vulnerable children with subtle messages that are deliberately designed to corrupt their moral judgment regarding the institution of family”.

The statement also made note of Article 45 in the country’s constitution that “defines marriage as a union between persons of the opposite gender”, and sections in the country’s penal code that “criminalise homosexual behaviour and attempted homosexual behaviour”.

The board wrote to MultiChoice, the company that broadcasts the channels featuring the programmes through its pay-TV services, to “immediately discontinue” the programmes.

Three of the six programmes – ‘The Loud House’, ‘The Legend of Korra’ and ‘Hey Arnold’ – air on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons; while the other three programmes – ‘Clarence’, ‘Steven Universe’ and ‘Adventure Time’ – air on Cartoon Network.

Viacom International Media Networks, which operates Nickelodeon and Nicktoons, said in a statement they would “suspend the shows in question in Africa”, and Turner Broadcasting, which operates Cartoon Network, said in a statement they do show “amended versions of US original series” in their effort to be “respectful of local laws, cultures and sensitivities”.

Focus on obscenity
In March 2017, popular stand-up comedy TV series ‘The Churchill Show’ was taken off the air after 25 minutes into its broadcast due to content deemed inappropriate. The show airs on Sunday evenings during the family programming hours of 17:00-22:00, reported Kenyan news site Standard Digital on 6 March 2017.

Mutua took to social media on the night of the show to criticise the segment, calling it a “stupid and horrible prank” that was “totally in bad taste”.

A day later, Mutua on social media said show presenter Daniel Ndambuki apologised for the segment the following morning. Mutua said he accepted the apology personally, but that the KFCB would still “pursue the matter to ensure the mistake is not repeated and will mete (sic) the necessary sanctions on the Show”.

The board CEO also noted in all capital letters that: “You don’t have to be obscene to be popular!”

According to non-profit organisation Music in Africa, Mutua sought legal action in December 2016 against musicians Alex ‘Katombi’ Kasau and Alphonse ‘Kithungo Raha’ Kioko for the use of obscene stage names and lyrics.

Earlier in November 2016, Mutua announced that the KFCB issued a ban on local musicians using stage names they consider to be “offensive”, as well as the sale of music that contains “obscene” lyrics or glorifies drug abuse and violence.

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