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A not-so-united commonwealth?

posted 27 Dec 2016, 20:35 by Sandra Kirby   [ updated 27 Dec 2016, 20:36 ]
British colonial history is full of less than flattering examples of how the British governments of various hues exploited countries and indigenous populations in the Empire/Commonwealth  This summer in NZ the movie " A United Kingdom" is showing. It is based on Botswana and the British Government treatment of its King Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth.  The time is 1947-1956 so Labour Govt under Atlee followed by Conservative Govt under Churchill. I am reading the book that forms basis of movie -Colour Bar.  Basic story is man from Botswana studying in London meets British girl, falls in love and marries her.  Now at this stage in the story we could do some empathising - we know a similar tale about man from British colonies moving to London and falling in love with British girl ....However we are fortunate that our experiences are not at all similar (I hope). Both families, British Govt & Church of England  all opposed marriage British Govt ended up exiling Seretse basically because the marriage offended Sth Africa.
The movie simplified the politics according to the book but basic facts well laid out.  Not only were British Govt wanted to keep Sth Africa happy as apartheid laws was being brought into force but were also trying to get access to diamonds that were being discovered in Botswana.
I took Nana to movie, because she of course was aware of the marriage and the furore - it being when she was an adult living in Britain. She thinks she attended a rally for the Khamas.  If you ever want to feel very young take a 90 year old to a 12:45 screening of a recent historical movie.  I may have been the youngest person there.  Nana at 90 probably wasn't the oldest!!  Zimmer frames abounded. Theatre full.
And in the last word not only did the Khamas get to go back to Botswana but Seretse fought for Botswana to become an independent country; he was first President and one of their 3 sons is current President.  And marriage did last - Seretse died in 1982 and Ruth in 2002.  Not one of the times where we can be proud of the Commonwealth heritage