The Wolf of Wall Street is actually about morality


There is a LIMIT to everything and we believe the Kenyan public deserves better. WOLF OF WALL STREET has been RESTRICTED. The film is NOT for sale, exhibition or distribution in KENYA. Violators shall be PROSECUTED.” I mean there are other things we deserve better – like a better supply of electricity and water but…oh well I guess this will do for now. lol. Take that Hollywood. Kenyans deserve better movies.- Sharon Nyakundi

Three things. One: I watched Wolf of Wall Street. (Just say it: my street cred is better than yours). Two: my government has banned the Wolf of Wall Street. Three: the Wolf of Wall Street is actually about morality.

I watched it on the whitest coldest Christmas Day that I have ever experienced. It is not up for discussion that those temperatures had been sent by my enemies (zilikuwa zimetumwa). I know it in my heart. It didn’t help that I was trying to keep the Kenyan tradition of wearing your nice clothes on Christmas Day. No, I am not too old for that. The metal part of my earrings in contact with my skin lost all its heat, and my ears started to freeze up, and I felt like any time my ears would just fall off and I would put them in my pockets and walk on because I was that numb.

Since the weather was not going to be my source of Christmas cheer, I made my way to the cinema and hurriedly paid my 8 bucks (yes, I say bucks now, don’t judge) and entered the auditorium, getting refuge from the cold.

The Wolf of Wall Street is graphic. Granted, I was raised Catholic and my definition of graphic is pretty extreme but even for the most liberal people that movie is at least slightly graphic. Someone made a four-and-a-half-minute video of the 509 times the word fuck is repeated. There are scenes there that made me blush because there were old people, like over-sixty-years-kind-of-old, in the seats behind me. But when I heard them laughing I relaxed and kept watching.

But language and unsettling jokes are the least of what is disconcerting to someone conservative about the Wolf of Wall Street. The issue is the themes. As the advertisement so clearly puts it: sex, drugs and money. It’s like someone was trying to make a highbred headache for Nairobi parents from the three things that they most fear will ruin their children.

Small exercise: If you watch the Wolf of Wall Street, I would like for you to try to answer this question honestly: Would you want to be him?

It is Leonardo Dicaprio (THE).

He is bathing in money and power and all the things that these have to offer. Plus, he is the kind of intelligent that is charming.

His wife is breathtakingly beautiful.

I am confident enough to ask you: Would you want to be him?

It hit me on my way back to my room after watching that movie. The Wolf of Wall Street actually brings out more than anything the shallowness of overindulgence. In its own twisted way the bizarreness of Leonardo’s life shows us that contentment is from the inside out.Banning the movie does not change the fact that these are real issues in our society. (I mean it is based on a true story). Bereft of the cliche plots of killing the villain, or happily ever after, or paralysis, this movie succeeds in tricking you into thinking  of it as shallow, while secretly imparting on you certain notions towards… you guessed it… sex, drugs and money.

We all try to find things that make us happy. I tried to watch a movie to cheer me up on Christmas Day. Leonardo tried to own all the money in the world. Both of us at the end of the day remained the people that we were before we sought fulfillment from other things.


Mejja’s song: “Kweli jana kuliendaje” – someone told me in 2007 that it was a campaign against irresponsible drinking. It blew my mind. But when I listened to it, I realized it was. At the end he says, “pombe ataacha kesho.” Apart from addiction, the song points out negative effect after negative effect of irresponsible drinking, so much so that it is in actual sense a ‘deglorificiation’ of alcohol. It snuck up on you—didn’t it? I guess that was his point— imagine what would have happened if Esther Wahome had written a song aimed at doing the same thing.

You would not watch the Wolf of Wall Street if it was a documentary about money not buying happiness.



6 thoughts on “The Wolf of Wall Street is actually about morality

  1. Hahahaha. Good that you saw through the facade. It is too graphic for the demure Kenyans. Can you imagine your “twin” and I curling up on the coach to watch it. That would be the day.

  2. I guess they banned it because most of the Kenyans who watch movies are high school leavers. The older geneartion and younger ones also watch movies but not as much as high school leavers. I don’t think that most of them have the time to think on the point driven across by the movie. The same way they actually got drank to Mejja’s song. Very few take their time to think about it positively like you. In my opinion, as long as the scenes are obscene, the government has the right to ban it. The same way your mother would snatch away something harmful from you, but if you decide to go behind her back and take it, well, its upto you. As far as I know, alot of Nairobian youth watch movies as a lifestyle, not as entertainment.

    1. I agree that if you look at the scenes in this movie in isolation you would consider it harmful, and I also agree that this is an unconventional way of looking at it.

      If my child was a high school leaver though (which in my opinion is pretty young but also pretty old), I would let her/him watch it if they asked to. The movie brings nothing new to the Nairobi weekend scene– probably little they have not encountered yet. Anxious as I may be (and many other Nairobi parents I imagine) to talk about these issues openly and in an unsanitised way, they might as well be aware that everything, whether they engage in it or not, ends in that emptiness. And although I have put it in writing, anyone who watches the movie would be aware of that fact, and then do whatever they want with what they know.

      Mejja’s song was against irresponsible drinking and not against drinking. And it too succeeds in creating the awareness, in a way that many other channels would not have managed.

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