When ro­mance con­quers racism

CityPress - - Voices -

A United King­dom Rose­mund Pike, David Oyelowo, Terry Pheto, Vusi Kunene This film tells the true-life love story be­tween in­de­pen­dent Botswana’s first pres­i­dent, Seretse Khama, and his white Bri­tish wife, Ruth Wil­liams, at a time when the UK wanted to hold on to its pro­tec­torate of what was then called Bechua­na­land, where apartheid South Africa’s racist poli­cies were be­gin­ning to take hold.

David Oy­olewo and Rose­mund Pike are con­vinc­ing as the lov­ing, de­ter­mined cou­ple and au­di­ences will be­come en­veloped in their story, es­pe­cially when they be­come de­fi­ant in the face of the high­est po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence and re­sis­tance to their union.

My big­gest gripe is Oyelowo’s ac­cent and his ob­vi­ous in­abil­ity to speak even the most ba­sic Setswana. I found this dis­tract­ing.

The dearth of Setswana in the movie is also jar­ring. Clearly, it was made for an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence, but ad­ding the ver­nac­u­lar would have em­pha­sised the con­text in which the story is based.

Still, it is a marvel of a film, which is to be ex­pected from such a pow­er­ful story that changed the course of a coun­try’s his­tory.

Award-win­ning ac­tor Vusi Kunene is great as the sto­ical un­cle, Tshekedi Khama, and Terry Pheto shines as Seretse’s pro­tec­tive younger sis­ter, Naledi.

The movie spans many years in a short time and, as a re­sult, many of the smaller sub­plots are not as well de­vel­oped as they could have been.

Still, South Africans should see this film for var­i­ous rea­sons: as a re­minder of apartheid’s dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on neigh­bour­ing coun­tries – it al­most de­railed Botswana’s in­de­pen­dence; as a ro­man­tic tale beau­ti­fully told; and as a his­tor­i­cal epic.

What­ever the rea­son, you’ll love it. – Gugulethu Mh­lungu

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