In the late 1940s, Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland is studying law in Britain in preparation for his eventual ascension to the throne. There, the dashing prince falls in love with a white British clerk, Ruth Williams, and they plan to marry. While they suspect that his uncle, the Regent, would disapprove, nothing prepares them for the diplomatic firestorm and domestic political tumult their defiant love would spark. Now facing a citizenry leery of a white Briton as their Queen, the international opposition is even more unyielding from the British holding their land as a protectorate and fearful of South Africa's racist backlash to this affront to their apartheid domination. Against all odds, King Khama and Ruth must struggle to maintain their love and help their people in a land that would become the Republic of Botswana. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
A book on this event entitled "A Marriage of Inconvenience" was written by Michael Dutfield and subtitled "The Persecution of Seretse and Ruth Khama". The book was made into a TV film of the same title in 1990. See more »
One of the British bureaucrats says that South Africa wants to annex "Botswana". At the time the story is set, it was known as the protectorate of Bechuanaland. It wasn't until 1966 when it gained independence that the name "Botswana" was used. See more »
A true and beautifully portrayed contemporary history
I lived in Botswana for twenty-five odd years and enjoyed every single moment of it, almost certainly due in large measure to Seretse's enlightened politics and the genuine and natural warmth of the Botswana people. I knew both main characters quite well. Seretse was a very approachable man, even as president, and it was a pleasure to spend some time in his company. He was a man well loved by everyone, black and white. In fact, in Botswana one scarcely thought in those terms. As a politician he had huge charisma and was a great orator. He was also a born leader. I remember well being told by insiders that government Ministers who were in trouble for minor abuse of office or the like, would tremble in fear outside his office when they were to be 'carpeted'.
Ruth was an extraordinarily capable woman and even in her later years had more stamina than almost anyone I have known. She was at work in her office in Gaborone from early morning to the end of the day, patron of the Red Cross, Botswana Council of Women etc etc. Contrary, however, to one reviewer's criticism, Rosalind Pike's portrayal was quite accurate. She was not a strident campaigner but a very effective mover who enjoyed a social life and had many friends. In her widowhood she received constant visits from senior members of the tribe and government and was widely loved and respected by her people. She was most certainly "Mohumagadi" - Mother of the Nation.
This film portrays their personalities pretty accurately and the characterisation of the actors is extraordinarily true to life. Both David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike were absolutely convincing. The quality of the acting very quickly overcame my initial niggling concern that the physical likenesses were not quite there. The photography of Botswana was outstanding and the familiar views of Serowe from the Palapye 'road' and the scenes in the kgotla were quite emotional for me; I unexpectedly found I had a lump in my throat.
I can understand that, for others, the film may not have the immediacy it has for me, perhaps, but previous criticisms of 'cold' and 'unemotional' - No! Leaving aside my personal interest, it deserved to be the opener for the London Film Festival. Maybe not a total "blockbuster" but an unusual and great film nonetheless. Very close to fact.
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