Wanuri Kahiu is a Kenyan film director. She has received several awards and nominations for the films which she directed, including the awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2009.
Kahiu was born in Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating from the University of Warwick in 2001 with a BSc degree in Management Science, she enrolled for a Master's Degree at the 'Masters of Fine Arts' programme in directing at the School of Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Creative influences and themes
Kahiu has engaged with Afrofuturism both in her artistic creation and in the inspiration for her work, calling for a specifically African flavor in her approach to the subculture. Drawing on the depth, power, and histories of African mythologies, spiritualities, and naturalisms, Kahiu has made the argument that African peoples and cultures have been engaging in Afrofuturistic thought for centuries, if not longer. Primarily, she locates Africa as relatively close to the spirit world, allowing for a blending of spirituality and reality both in story and in lived reality. She positions Africa as an inherently futuristic space, one that disrupts and does away with Western binaries surrounding technology, nature, and linear time. Africa's futurity is one far older, deeper, and richer than anything that the West has come up with. Contemporarily, Kahiu has identified an African Afrofuturism as one that undergoes a postcolonial reclamation of its own timelines, narratives, and spaces. This becomes apparent in Pumzi, in which reclamation and reuse are shown to be authentically, inherently African practices.
Critique of non-governmental organizations
Kahiu has critiqued the ways in which Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) control the popular imagination of Africa. She has expressed that how you get money to be able to be a filmmaker in Kenya is through making films about whatever NGOs are funding – films that are about AIDs or female genital mutilation. These images, Kahiu says, reconstitute Africa as the Other.
Kahiu situates her work as a filmmaker making films about Africa to combat these images. She says her films are for the next generation: “Because we have children that we are bearing, and because there are people already here now who exist (my daughter exists now), that we are that we are telling stories to: we need to be very clear about the messages we’re putting out.”
- 2009: Pumzi
- 2009: From a Whisper (screenplay)
- 2005: Still Life
- "Wanuri Kahiu: "In Kenya, I'm a hustler"". CNN.COM/International. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
- "The Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) Nominations for 2009". USA: Jamati.com. Retrieved 15 July 2010.