Film’s message to trump them all
Over the years, I’ve met many couples where one is a Kiwi and one is from overseas. This is not unusual in Queenstown. It is a town of many nationalities. At some stage the couple have to make the decision of where to live in the long term. Inevitably one person must give up living in their home country and the chance to see family and friends on a regular basis. It’s not always easy.
Back in 1947, Seretse Khama, a black African man and Ruth Williams, a white London office worker, faced a similar dilemma. In 1947, mobile phones, Facebook, Skype and other forms of modern communication didn’t exist. If you made the call to marry someone from another country and move, it was a huge sacrifice. To keep in touch with family, the best you could hope for was to post letters and perhaps have the occasional trip back home.
Last week, a friend and I saw the film ‘‘A United Kingdom’’ at Dorothy Brown’s. It chronicles the lives of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. We were enthralled.
Of course there was much more to the story of Seretse and Ruth than the dilemma of whether to live in Queenstown or elsewhere. Seretse Khama was royalty, the heir apparent of Bechuanaland; the country now known as Botswana. Seretse was expected to marry a local girl when he returned home. In 1947 while living and studying in London, he met Ruth at a Missionary Society dance. They fell in love and later married. Ruth was fired from her job and her father disowned her. Seretse’s family thoroughly disapproved.
It was a huge scandal in both Seretse’s country and in Britain. Both governments were horrified by the marriage. Neither government wanted to upset South Africa, where the apartheid policy had been introduced. In that context, a mixed race marriage was unthinkable. The couple ignored those who stood in their way and carried on. Their courage was unfailing.
It is a great film. The acting, cinematography, set design, and costumes are flawless. The lead roles are played by David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. Both are superb and give strong performances, as do the supporting cast.
The most memorable thing about the film is its message. It is a story about being united. At a personal level, it is about the union of Sereste and Ruth, their marriage, their children and their love. But it is also the story of uniting your people and your country. It is a story of what hope and determination can achieve. It’s a tale of triumph over intolerance. Seretse Khama was a man who knew that truly successful leaders take their people with them on the road to forge a brighter future. Seretse and Ruth changed their world for the better. Botswana is now one of Africa’s most peaceful and prosperous nations as a result of their work.
If there is a date night in the White House, Donald and Melania Trump should watch this film.
❚ Queenstown’s Single Girl is looking for true love. Email firstname.lastname@example.org