Apart from a vague recollection of the British protectorate called Bechuanaland becoming the independent nation of Botswana, the country never registered with me until I read the first #1 Ladies Detective Agency book by Alexander McCall Smith. The protagonist, Precious Ramotse, is a mature, "traditionally built" woman with a lot of common sense who solves small mysteries through her understanding of human nature. The series is now up to 18 books.
More recently, Botswana has been mentioned in connection with Prince Harry of Wales , who loves the place, and reportedly it was where he and Meghan Markle fell in love.
For all these reasons, as soon as I heard about the movie A United Kingdom, I wanted to see it because it's the true story of Sir Seretse Khama , a hereditary king, leader of the independence movement, and the first elected president of Botswana. He had a great deal to do with establishing the country's stable democracy–and the movie is also a wonderful true romance. Here's a trailer.
As African royalty, Seretse Khama studied in South Africa before going to Oxford and then studying law at the Inner Temple in London. It was there he met Ruth Williams and they fell deeply in love. They married in 1948 against the advice of just about everyone.
Their marriage had major political repercussions. Neighboring South Africa was in the process of creating apartheid, the evil segregation system, and the last thing they wanted was a next door neighbor with an interracial marriage at the top. Pressure was brought on the Khamas, and Seretse was exiled to England for five years, after which he and Ruth were allowed to return as civilians with his rank stripped.
The movie shows not only the Khamas' marriage, Botswana's struggle for independence and ultimate triumph. The leads, played by David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, are excellent, and the story is powerful and uplifting. I strongly recommend it. And if you have a chance to visit Botswana–grab it!
Mary Jo, who would love to go back.