Film

Film In The Works About Botswana's First President Seretse Khama And His Wife Ruth Williams

News on the upcoming film on Botswana's former president Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams + a gallery of the first couple.

Yesterday Deadline reported that a new film is in the works on the life of Botswana's first president, Seretse Khama. The focus of A United Kingdom will be Khama's relationship with Ruth Williams– the English woman who would become Khama's wife and eventually Botswana's first lady. At this point it's a bit early in the project's development to know whether this is one we'll be looking forward to. What we do know is the film will be based on a script written by Guy Hibbert, and backed by the UK-based Pathe. Biopic extraordinaire Nigerian-British actor David Oyelowo (The Butler, Nina, Lincoln) is on board to star as Seretse Khama as well as produce the film. Neither a director nor the role of Ruth Williams have been cast. Filming is set to begin in 2014 in Botswana and London. The Khama family issued this statement from Botswana regarding the project's development:


“We are pleased that the story of Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Khama is being brought to life in the film A United Kingdom by Pathe. Our family has been regularly involved in development of this film so far, having collaborated closely with the screenwriter Guy Hibbert in what we believe is a wonderful script. We are equally pleased that David Oyelowo will lead the cast as Seretse.”

Here's some background on Botswana's first family. Khama was born in 1921 at Serowe in the Bechuanaland British protectorate, the grandson of Kgosi Khama III– kgosi/ruler of the Bangwato people of Bechuanaland (in central modern-day Botswana). It was Khama III that urged the crown to grant Bechuanaland a protectorate of the UK to guard against the threat of encroachment from the Boers.

Khama– whose uncle was regent in his place after the death of Khama's father– attended South Africa's Fort Hare College before relocating to England to study law. It was there in 1947 that he first met Ruth Williams– a WAAF ambulance driver during WWII at the time working as a clerk at the Lloyd's of London insurance market. The two married in 1948, making worldwide headlines and stirring outcry in England, Bechuanaland, and South Africa alike. The apartheid government, fearing the ramifications of a mixed marriage between a chief and a white British woman. Succumbing to pressure from SA the British government held a parliamentary enquiry on the matter of Khama's fitness to rule. Though the investigaion reported Khama was in fact fit to rule Bechuanaland, the British government ordered that the report be suppressed and had the couple exiled from Bechuanaland in 1951. Following outcry from human rights groups, the exile was uplifted in 1956 and the Khamas were allowed to return to Bechuanaland as private citizens.

Beginning in 1961 Khama returned to politics– leading the nationalist Bechuanaland Democratic Party (BDP). In 1966 Khama became the first prime minister of a newly independent Botswana. A year later he became the country's first president (a post which he served until his death in 1980). The couple's eldest son Ian Khama began his term as Botswana's president in 2008. Take a look at photos of the first couple in the gallery above.

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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