Monday, 10 October 2016

Ezekiel Mutua Is On The Hot Seat Again, Because His New Bill Is Skewed Towards "Censoring" Creatives

Kenya Film Classicfication Board is trending because of a draft bill it is fronting titled Films, Stage Plays and Publications Act.

Ezekiel Mutua who is the CEO of the institution is not new to controversy and raising online temperatures. This time, he has done it through this draft bill that is making rounds on social media.

Kenyans on twitter are calling it a means to "censor" creatives. It is not clear at what stage the draft bill is at, but chances are, it is at it's formative stages.

Boniface Mwangi who runs PAWA 254 a creatives hub, wrote:

During president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s and former president Daniel Arap Moi’s rule, CAP 222 of the laws of Kenya was used stamp down and to control both film and theatrical productions.
The law required that you had to submit scripts to the then Kenya censorship board for approval. The government through the board muzzled its critics leading to arrests and indefinite detention.
The Kamirithu theatre comes to mind and how using art for civic education led to the arrest and eventual exile of Prof. Ngugi Wa Thiongo. In 1997 the laws requiring that scripts for theatrical productions be submitted for approval were repealed though the same laws for film productions remained in place. That helped give birth to the many theatre groups and artists that you see today.
We all remember Redykyulass . They mocked and humanised the man,who was towering giant, the first news item in all Kenya news bulletins. School, roads, beans and even potatoes were named after Moi. He was the chancellor of all universities and only appointed deputy vice chancellors. Redykyulass cracked the facade with their imitation of President Moi. The man could make you disappear without a trace. In 2002 the power of art helped send Moi and his project to retirement.
The 2010 constitution enshrines the right of every Kenya to a freedom of expression. In 2016 Ezekiel Mutua the CEO of the Kenya film and Classification Board is trying to bring back dictatorial laws. He is planning to extend it beyond film and theatre to cover advertisements, billboards, internet and publications through a draft KFCB bill 2016.
The bill gives the C.E.O broad powers to censor, stop and sue anyone or any theatrical or film production that he thinks does not conform to or is not “reflective of national values and aspirations of the people of Kenya”.
As a an artist who runs a creative a hub, Pawa254 l call on all Kenyans of goodwill to reject this bill in its entirety, art is a mirror to society and often times challenges the way we think and do things, we cannot leave the decision on what is art to rest on one person or institution.
We need policies that encourage and create jobs not censorship. There is meeting tomorrow, Tuesday the 11th of October, 8:30am at Louis Leakey auditorium at the National museums. Please show up, let your voice be heard, Long live freedom of expression.