In today’s article, I focus on another film, A United Kingdom released in 2016 and maximising profits of about $13.8 million. Precisely, I want to contribute my viewpoints about this film especially in terms of how it is one fitting example of how filmmakers in the Western countries have depicted Botswana through film.
A United Kingdom is an adaptation of Michael Dutfield’s novel A Marriage of Inconvenience. It is based on a true historical account about Botswana’s first president and King of the Bangwato people, Seretse Khama, and his British wife, Ruth who comes from a working class family. Categorically, it is a documentary film written by an award winning British screenwriter Guy Hibbert, and directed by a noted British actress and director Amma Asante. This film cast David Oyelowo who plays Seretse Khama, and Rosamund Pike who plays Ruth Khama.
It is fitting to praise the film especially when it attempts to expose the atrocities of the British colonization in Botswana by advancing a narrative of how leaders such as Seretse showed resistance and contempt towards British imperialism in Serowe, Botswana at the time. However, this film still presents some serious problems if analyzed properly presenting inaccurate historical development and in the manner in which it pays attention to the narrative of colonialism.
Against this brief background, my aim is to problematize the film on the basis of the following: its lack of relevance to Botswana in representing the historical legacy of the country’s nation building amidst the reality of colonialism. Further, in the way it intentionally contorts and interprets cultural values of Batswana, it lacks sensitivity and attention to time Further, it reiterates a decontextualized account of how the Bangwato speak Setswana. In the film, the protagonist struggles to pronounce the word Kgotla the way Seretse as a royal would have pronounced it.
As one author from Botswana, Legodile Seganabeng put it, “I must however commend Vusi Kunene (Tshekedi Khama) and Terry Pheto (Naledi Khama) for pulling quite a stunning performance. I think they tried to save the film. I noticed that both Vusi and Terry pronounced the word Kgota quite properly, without the ‘l’, just as the Bangwato do. But our lead star who played Seretse kept on saying Kgotla and I highly doubt Seretse spoke that way.” This is interesting, I think, and my question lies on what could be the justification of the deliberate linguistic or dialectical appropriation on the speech of the protagonist.
The film does not use Setswana quite fairly and adequately nor have an option for the use of Setswana subtitles. Furthermore, A United Kingdom lacks cultural sensitivity to Botswana situation and experience in at least the following three ways: the film assumes any black male can assume the position of the protagonist as this is seen through the character of David Oyelowo. The film reiterates the inaccurate history that Botswana was not colonized but “protected” by the British.
The work that has been written by local historians from Botswana such as a Prof. Mgadla of the History department at the University of Botswana can be used to critique this historical misconception that is implicit in the film. Another incident I found unsettling derives a shot that depicts a young girl handing a letter to the commissioner in the Kgotla when the Bangwato were demanding to see their Kgosi. Given the time frame of the film (in the 40s), it would have been unlikely that children would be allowed to be present in that setting where elders discuss weighty societal issues. On the contrary, there is no such an occurrence in a British parliament and this accounts to the inconsistencies of representation.
Could there be any reason other that the fact that the film although set in Botswana is clearly not necessarily designed to be consumed by the people of Botswana? This can explained by the fact that while there are many people from Botswana who could have easily played Seretse’s role better than David Oyelowo, those many unemployed youths who had turned up to audition as background actors, the film production team had already established their set and the desired market and ignored these masses. In other words, the historical set and narrative or story about Botswana is provided freely yet it makes a lot of money elsewhere in the western countries with absolutely no questions asked.
There is still a lot of policy work that must be done by Ministry of Arts and Culture in Botswana, specifically aimed at negotiating, monitoring and, determining the terms and conditions of film production companies with transparency. This is the only sure way of avoiding the continuation of global exploitation- if we ask the right questions and utilize our local expert opinion in Botswana; our culture which can be tangible and intangible, is equally subject to global exploitation- just like land, diamonds and other natural resources that have been getting stolen since colonialism.
Clearly, through this film, the important story about historic Botswana is presented in a decontextualized fashion for the consumption of its targeted western liberal audience and sales. In the process Botswana does not gain anything economically significant but a ‘stereotypical’ image across the western liberal audience who can only feel sorry but cannot do much to change or challenge the situation.
Given that we are now in the 21st century, there is an unparalleled need for us as a nation to make an earnest effort to present our images and refuse to be represented in a way that makes us passive consumers of the arts. This is important for Botswana and the rest of the African continent.
KEITH PHETLHE pursues a Ph.D in Comparative African Literature with a minor in Film Studies from Ohio University, College of Fine Arts. He does research on Postcolonial Theory, Translation, African Languages & Literatures Language Education and Film. email@example.com
Fashion makes a statement, which is why Fashion without Borders tries by all means to get all amazing young designers to create dresses to fit every personality- from princess to punk, and everything in between.
Pretty obvious though, the 2020 edition flopped. It didn’t come as a surprise because the taxing COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on almost everything in the world.
Just when we thought Fashion without Borders 2020 will come much better than the previous tedious one, we were floored to see that there was little to no difference. The show was held at the most famous Molapo Crossing Stanbic Piazza, which without doubt was a perfect outdoor venue to host a fashion show, it didn’t however look like it was a fashion show filled with glitz and glam, if anything the show looked more like a public meeting.
The venue lack creativity and unruffled ambience. There were few chairs lined perfectly with a distance of two meters in between as a way of observing COVID-19 health protocols, but it looked more of a wedding than a fashion show.
As if that wasn’t startling enough, some important guests were told that there are no chairs for them to occupy. They had no choice but to stand on their feet the entire two shows, unacceptable and unprofessional for an event of its magnitude.
The Piazza is paved with light brownish small bricks that nearly made half of the models tumble. They kept on trembling, quaking and walking like new born calves, it was painful to watch to say the least. A ramp would have solved this issue.
Fashion without Borders is such a prodigious and immense esteemed fashion event that shouldn’t be seen with lot of glitches, especially that it features international designers from as far as Nigeria. The show was divided into two phases.
Attendees had to purchase two tickets should they want to attend both shows. There wasn’t really much of a difference between the two shows though.Security guards were all over trying to make sure everyone has the right tag for the second show, and people felt hassled.
As always, there were goodie bags with some nice gifts in them to be given to attendees at the fashion show. Some folks got their hands on the gifts and while others left out probably because the providers felt whichever way about that particular person.
I was reliably informed that some of the ‘big’ organizers were on quarantine and only underlings had to dance to the music. Some of them, according to a key witness, irked some members of the media. The media came in great numbers to support the event, like always, only for them to be treated less than.
Some of them left their cameras on and the ‘big’ organizers were not so happy about this from their quarantine centres. We just hope they recovered from the trauma of the COVID-19 contact tracing, as well as the droning, muddled event they threw this year.
In the fashion sense, a lot of folks felt it lacked substance. From the theme itself “The Phygital Experience”, most attendees were already lost, having no clue what it meant or how to respond to it.
Some felt the designers brought collections with less creativity, which spoke with little to no volume, while others were not fascinated by what was physically and digitally presented by the designers and models.
Breast cancer has been a nightmare for most women globally, and according to World Health Organization (WHO), the condition will continue claiming lives of many for years to come.
For Otshepheng Mthimkhulu, a 36-year old police officer at Ramotswa, had her life turned upside down by the illness. It has been a miserable reality getting to know that she has breast cancer, and for the rest of her life, she will be surviving with a single breast.
The small blood stains on her right breast stirred her to go see the doctor, who then recommended pain killers to ease the agony. Not knowing what she is suffering from, Mthimkhulu was told to come for check-up the next month which ultimately failed to give her a diagnosis.
It was only when she was getting seriously concerned about this condition that she followed up on the check-ups for the next six months. After being sent from pillar to post pertaining to mammogram that she was supposed to undergo, she finally got tested at a private hospital where she tested and did a biopsy.
“Unfortunately the results came back and I was told I have a metaplastic carcinoma breast cancer on stage 3,” she said.With her worse fear a reality, Mthimkhulu started her chemotherapy which took eight circles. “After the last circle I decided that I was not going for surgery because at the time, I was on training at the police college.
Lot of questions flocked my mind, lost in thoughts how I am going to face the world with only a single breast. That was the saddest time of my life.”Mthimkhulu had to do mastectomy and start another chemotherapy Herceptin because her hormones tested positive. She did not know what was next, only to be told that the cancer is now in her lungs.
Questions came rising and falling, and no answers were close enough. She was devastated, her dreams were crumpled and her life carried up-side-down. Quizzed on how she survived all the way through, she told Weekendlife that she got a little of inspiration from a series she watched, saying that she learnt that actually, there are other complicated conditions people are suffering and dying from, and cancer can be much better.
“I then started opening up to people and telling them about breast cancer. I earned great support from my close associates, something that gave me hope. At one point I met a woman who introduced me to a fighter group that abetted us with everything we needed.
It was a consecration I must say, because most of us felt much better and alive. Learning that we have breast cancer was just a fairy-tale to us.”They say every woman needs a man. Mthimkhulu found her husband who has been supportive and courageous throughout this journey. She said there are other substantial women who offered artificial breast, wigs and counselling.
No one ever told Mthimkhulu that this will be smooth sailing nor did she expect it to be. She went through overwhelming experiences that made her hopeless at times. According to her, at times her doctor’s appointments would be cancelled last minute. As much as that can be discouraging, she held on nonetheless.
“I started experiencing the side effects of the chemotherapy when I lost my hair, nails and skin complexion. I was always fatigued and stressed most of the times and I was always on sick leave. This was fracturing because I never thought at one point I will be living with cancer,” she said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Award-Winning Youth Activist, Omphemetse Mmolai, through her organization Berekela Botswana Monana in collaboration with LEGABIBO will be hosting breast cancer survivors, well-wishers, and other relevant stakeholders for breast cancer awareness event in Lobatse this Saturday.
Mmolai told Weekendlife reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang that there will be a hill climbing exercise meant to sensitize the public about the breast cancer condition, adding that the Lobatse DHMT and LEGABIBO organizations will be having pertinent presentations.
“I have been involved in different activities geared at addressing various issues that affect the youth, women and girls. It is significant to note that these activities were conducted in Lobatse, so this month as it is the time to raise awareness about breast cancer, that will be my main focus.”
Quizzed on why hill climbing, she said this is a way of showing hardships of what breast cancer survivors go through. This is to say they comprehend the circumstances they are being challenged with, and that they are not alone in this fight.
Atasaone Molemogi, who goes by the stage name of A.T.I, is yet again making headlines and trending on social media platforms.
The eccentric and somewhat lose cannon artist is under fire for the stunts he pulled early this year. A.T.I had gone over and above to enlighten and fight for Batswana’s rights against according to him, foreigners who have monopolised the country.
So much so Atasaone recorded a video ranting and hurling insults while in front of Satar Dada’s Motor Centre at Fairground Mall. That was one of his many episodes. However, the one that gave him the ‘struggle icon’ persona was when he was arrested for making a video in front of the State House, this landed the dear lad in the cells of Urban Police Station and later transferred to Central Police Station.
Batswana gathered at the Central Police to demonstrate and demand the maverick be released. A.T.I became the Mandela of Botswana, the voice of the voiceless, the Messiah Batswana needed. A.T.I could not become any bigger till another outspoken personality stepped on the stage, Duma Gideon Boko, lawyer and President of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The aberrant lawyer did not disappoint, especially when he flamboyantly swung his gown on like Superman in front of the press. This was the moment, Botswana’s two outspoken and nonconformists were wearing their capes to save the ordinary citizen from years of being subjected to mediocracy.
Molemogi had Batswana believe that indeed they were being treated unfairly in their own country and incited many to take up arms and fight for a better Botswana for Batswana. The people stood rock solid behind the maverick artist.
That is until A.T.I pulled the rug under their feet and went ahead and met Tumiso Rakgare, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The very same Minister he vehemently declined to meet, hell-bent on only having an audience with the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
What transpired between Rakgare and A.T.I is not known, but any Tom, Dick and Harry can guess that A.T.I, one way or another, was enticed by something said or done by the Minister because the recluse was as silent as a lamb after the meet.
Now, this publication by no means implies that Rakgare offered Atasaone anything valuable but observing the cries of the masses it may be deducted to something along those lines.All this however happened mid this year and anyone would think that it would be old news and a closed chapter, not to be.
The public cannot for the life of them get over how A.T.I used them to push his agenda and then leave them hanging. A sin unforgiveable in the eyes of Batswana. And so the masses have to have their displeasure made known.
A.T.I has been awarded a new name, Judas Iscariot. The infamous follower of Jesus Christ who sold the latter to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver. Batswana made the reference having deducted that they and their dreams have been sold in the same way Christ was sold off. A.T.I has sabotaged and sold the struggle, for what or how much is still not known.
While people find it hard to understand why ATI threw in the towel, the controversial singer seems unbothered and does not regret anything. He however cited that he is not fond of the name ‘Judas Iscariot’. He further stated that people should understand that it is easy for him to get lost in the midst of everything.
A.T.I shared with this publication that he needed to start somewhere in order to meet the President. He further mentioned to this publication that they discussed how best they can assist the youth and he was telling the Minister about his clothing line, and asking for support from the minister. None of the things mentioned have materialized however.
In his defence he said, “We need to be able to save ourselves before we can be able to save others. People should stop laughing at people who supported me and they should stop calling me Judas Iscariot. The reason why I was going to war when the year began, was because I needed security and I needed our leaders to give me answers.
I was scared I wanted more communication. With time I noticed that I am losing myself. No one told me what to do but I did what I did and I did exactly how l felt it was best,” he said.“A lot of people felt I am their answer, no! I am not anybody’s answer that is why when I was still at it I noticed the saviour mentality. I felt I was back at it again.
I cannot try to save the world all the time. You cannot change the world that don’t see the need to change their mental state.
At the same time the people I am trying to do it for, are still stuck in 89. I did it for the people I needed to do it for and for the truest results to be visible.”