A young man, Seretse Khama, from Botswanaland, is sent to the UK, following the death of his parents to prepare him for his role as chief of his people. After two decades, he is ready to return home, but there is a small complication. The man has fallen in love with a white woman, Ruth Williams. This would not be so bad were it not that apartheid was how the government of South Africa treated the relations between blacks and whites and the miscegenation laws were if not in the statutes, were there in practice.
The first question we are confronted with is whether, had the tables been turned, would Queen Elizabeth be eligible for the throne if she had a black man for a husband. I don’t know if the rules of the monarchy have changed, last time I heard, a member of the royal family destined to be king or queen wouldn’t marry a Catholic. Marrying black looks to me like a sure sign of foregoing the monarchy.
This however isn’t the only problem we have in our hands. The South Africans do not want the marriage to stand, at least not, if the husband and wife are both living in Botswanaland. They engineer a conflict between our young prince and his uncle, and to good effect. They even have a report manufactured to confirm this.
You all know young lovers and ideals. The love birds fly to Botswanaland only to receive a very hostile reception from all quarters. The sister to the young chief isn’t amused.
When in the village meeting is held and Seretse in a moving speech gets the nod from the people to be their chief, the die is cast and a battle of empires, so to speak, begins. The Brits hatch a plan to get the couple back in the UK. Seretse goes back on his own, leaving his wife to stay at home. He is banished from home and a long battle for freedom ensues.
The administrators from the colonial office are both ruthless and heartless.
The movie has some very great scenes and speeches. But most of the characters are cardboard characters. For example, Naledi, Sereste’s younger sister who, in her first meeting with Ruth is quite hostile transforms to be her defender, but this transformation is not well developed.
We also don’t get to see the conflicts the uncle struggles with, first when he departs to establish a new settlement after the villagers vote to have Sereste as their chief. There is just a single letter from nephew to uncle and then a meeting and we live happily ever after.
The first president of Botswana is the father of the fourth president who has started his tours of goodbye to his people as his term ends.
Khama Sereste put Botswana on the road for good governance and development, when instead of pursuing monarchy, suggested to the people they needed to elect their own leaders.
No man is free who is not master of himself