A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United Kingdom on 2017-02-11 19:57Z by Steven

A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

LA Weekly
2017-02-06

April Wolfe, Lead Film Critic


Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

In director Amma Asante’s epic political romance A United Kingdom, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star as Seretse and Ruth Khama, the interracial royal couple who stunned the world when they fought to rule the country that would become the Republic of Botswana. The story’s a wildly interesting history lesson on African poverty, the rise of apartheid in the late 1940s and Britain’s passive role in separating Botswana’s blacks from whites. But here all that complexity plays more Disney than drama, with a script from Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky) that turns love into a montage and politics into a trite cartoon of good vs. evil.

The couple lindy-hops through courtship and right into an engagement in the early scenes, which are set to an American jazz soundtrack. They first lock eyes at a dance in London, where he’s a law student and she’s an office worker. In real life, the two met secretly for a year before Seretse even got the nerve to ask, “Do you think you could love me?” But the script ramming right through the early romance and into the marriage leaves so many open questions about the characters’ love; as portrayed in the film, they barely know one another when Ruth decides she’s going to move to Africa to be Seretse’s queen.

Against the wishes of their families — and the British and South African governments — Seretse and Ruth marry and travel to Bechuanaland so that he can ascend the throne and use his education to help his people. Soon after their arrival comes one of the film’s most poignant moments: Seretse’s aunt Ella (Abena Ayivor), who’s the current queen, drills right into the thin white woman before her to ask if Ruth knows what it would mean to be a mother to the nation and its predominantly black citizens. Ella has a good point: At a time when white people are swarming into Bechuanaland to turn black citizens into servants, how good an idea is a white queen? Later, Ruth sits in her room, practicing British queen skills such as waving and smiling, while the tribe’s women break their backs outside to get food to their families. But A United Kingdom doesn’t fully explore this cultural distance; the film’s structure requires that Ruth be quickly accepted into the tribe, so the story can move on to Britain’s treachery…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A United Kingdom: Love In The Time Of The British Empire

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-11-30 20:40Z by Steven

A United Kingdom: Love In The Time Of The British Empire

Media Diversified
2016-11-28

Shane Thomas

Once the year in film began with #OscarsSoWhite, was it coincidence that 2016 is closing – and 2017 beginning – with a raft of movies featuring people of colour? We have Hidden Figures, Lion, Fences, and the magnificent Moonlight to come. We recently had the release of Queen of Katwe, and last Friday saw A United Kingdom, Amma Asante’s follow-up to Belle, appear in cinemas.

The story focuses around the true-life romance between Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams (played by David Oyelewo and Rosamund Pike). Seretse, who is studying in London in 1947, meets and falls in love with Ruth while in England. Normally this would set the table for a garden variety rom-com. But there’s no chance of any “com”, due to the complications the relationship brings. Seretse is the dauphin to the throne of Bechuanaland (a place under British control, before it was known as Botswana), and he is black, while Ruth is white…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bessie Head: Thunder Behind Her Ears – Her Life and Writings

Posted in Africa, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, South Africa, Women on 2009-12-03 23:50Z by Steven

Bessie Head: Thunder Behind Her Ears – Her Life and Writings

Boydell & Brewer
1995-01-01
Pages: 320
Size: 23.4 x 15.6 cm
Paperback ISBN 13: 9780852555354
Binding: Paperback

Gillian Stead Eilersen

This biography details the life of Bessie Head – a life which echoes so many of the aspects of the distressing history of South Africa in the last half century. She was born in an asylum to a mother who was considered mad because her father was black. Despite the disadvantages of being both a person of mixed race and a woman, she made her way in South Africa as a journalist. Her exile in rural Botswana was in marked contrast to the intensely urban backgrounds of most other South African writers. Her fierce determination to take root was reflected in her first novel Where Rain Clouds Gather. But she was kept a refugee for 15 years before she was granted citizenship of Botswana. Her most frightening novel, A Question of Power vividly captures the shifting dislocations of schizophrenia.

Tags: , , ,