The bestselling book the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, about a lady detective in Botswana, is now being made into a movie in that country.
One hopes this movie will help to counteract the cliches on present day Africa, where most of what one sees is either nature films (all of which hint the real problem is all those poor people stealing the animal habitat), or war films (Bruce Willis rescues buxom Italian doc, or evil white Leonardo shows how white people are behind all African war), and heroine films (where beautiful Bassinger/Weaver protects their beloved lions/gorillas against evil local poachers, who dare to kill animals to feed their starving kids).
Ah yes. And who is missing from these films?
Ordinary Africans. You know, not the revolutionaries, or the soldiers or the extras without faces. The ones who send their kids to school, work every day, and even have a beer with their friends in the evening.
So now comes a film written by a (white) African about a (black) African woman who decides to become a detective not using fancy techniques but by using her quiet knowledge of human nature.
Originally, the film was to be made in South Africa, but the government of Botswana stepped in. So now the film will be made in that multi ethnic peaceful democracy, and will include many locals as extras and in the film crew.
Other Botswana staffers have also vetted the script and costume designs, making sure that everything gives an accurate portrait of their country.
“Anyone who’s watching this will have a good impression of life in Botswana,” Tshwenyego says.
That is one of the aspects of this movie that appealed to Msamati, Scott’s co-star. Although the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has taken some criticism for being too sunny and for ignoring disease and war, Msamati, who grew up in Zimbabwe, says it’s a relief to work on a production that shows a truer, happier picture of the continent.
“No story is the be all and end all – they’re beginnings,” he says. “And this is a fantastic beginning. There is not a single white character, no well-meaning Westerner trying to help Africa. These are positive images of Africa and Africans.”