Regular readers of this column and those who interact with me on social media platforms will know that I don’t think much of Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua, especially in his self-appointed role of chief homophobe, which his supporters try to cloak with the appellation ‘moral policeman’.
Nevertheless, I do believe in giving the devil his due, and so I will say in black and white, without fear or favour and for all posterity, that Ezekiel is in his own funny way an expert communicator. He has mastered the art of stealing the limelight and directing the public’s attention away from situations that don’t cast him in the best light or circumstances that he would rather have ignored.
Certain of our politicians could learn a heck of a lot from him in this sense. I hope they made good use of him in the days before he found a forum for chasing gay shadows, that is, when he had a career as a government spin doctor.
Look at his recent performance when faced with the threat of sanction from the makers of Watu Wote, the film that carried Kenya’s 2018 Oscar hopes.
Just before the filmmakers went public with their condemnation of Ezekiel’s illegal screening of their film, the man suddenly called a media conference to condemn an unnamed foreign NGO, which he claimed was funding “gay content” [by the way, if there is such an organisation I want to know where to apply for funding] and supporting “a group of homosexuals” for tarnishing his name and that of the board he heads [again, I appeal to these people who are pouring money to get in touch].
Ezekiel’s attack, knowing that the gays would play right into his hands by rushing to condemn him, managed to take attention away, temporarily at least, from the issue of copyright breach. Frankly, as an observer, I think that move was a stroke of genius. Evil genius, but genius all the same.
Ezekiel’s ranting and raving against the gays was, however, less successful in drowning out the wonderful news from the Court of Appeal on that same Thursday, March 22. That day will go down in the annals of Kenyan legal history as the the day gay rights campaigners under the umbrella of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) won an historic victory by getting the court to rule that it is illegal to force people suspected of being homosexual to undergo demeaning anal examinations.
The judgement means that all Kenyans — queer or not — have the right to dignity, and Ezekiel and his ilk can scream and shout against this ideal all they like to no avail.
If my theory is correct, then the next major, outrageous Ezekiel anti-gay utterance will be around April 26, when the court is set to name the date it will announce its ruling on the NGLHRC’s challenge of the criminalisation of gay sex.
Of course, he might read this and attempt to wrong-foot me by staying silent, but I bet his homophobia will be the stronger urge. For now, all I can say is watch this space.