The latest in a growing list of African stories making it to mainstream cinema is Africa’s most celebrated political romance—the love story of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland and a white British woman named Ruth Williams.
A United Kingdom which stars David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) is essentially a biopic that chronicles the romance between Ruth and Sereste—who will later become the first democratically elected president of Botswana—and the epic controversy that trailed their marriage.
The couple met in 1947. Ruth was a clerk at the time and Seretse was a prominent Botswana prince studying in the UK. They eventually got married. On their return to Bechuanaland, their marriage was so scandalous that it leds to a 6-year exile thanks to pressure from the South African government who saw their interracial marriage as an affront to apartheid ideals.
Oyelowo who, for six years, worked on getting the film off the ground says that Sereste and Ruth’s story made an impression on him when he first encountered it in The Colour Bar, a biography written by Susan Williams.
“I was so struck by the level of challenge they faced simply for falling in love with each other that I became completely intoxicated with it,” says Oyelowo to Entertainment Magazine.
“I also realized in reading the story I had never seen an African love story of this cinematic scope. It spoke to me as an African, as a man, as a romantic.”
The interracial theme of the movie has personal resonances with Oyelowo who is in an interracial relationship.
“Yes, I’m married to a white lady who I love deeply. We haven’t had the struggle they’ve had, but I feel so blessed that I live in an era where me being married to whom I’m married to isn’t illegal or frowned upon, literally, by nations in addition to individual people.”
Seretse and Ruth’s story is inspiring as a love story and also as a story of a nation’s attempt to create a more inclusive community.
Amma Asante is directing. There is a mixed cast of British and South African actors, including Terry Pheto of Tsotsi fame. Donald Molosi, the Botswana author of Blue, Black and White, is featured in the film.
A release date has not been set.
We can’t wait to see it!