- “Film is a spiritual journey that catches the essence of how man is like in the wild without material possession”
- Water in Washington DC for first screening of the film
Water Setlabosha, the mokoro poler of the Okavango Delta has embarked on his first overseas trip to Washington DC, America to attend the first screening of National Geographic’s film, ‘Into the Okavango’ which he is a lead character of.
According to Water, he will be telling the story of the Okavango Delta, a tale he is truly passionate about. The mission of the Okavango Wilderness Project is to secure the delta and its vast untouched catchment in perpetuity. The National Geographic film is a rallying point for the global community that supports the protection of the Angolan catchment. A pre-screening of the film is expected to take place on April 2018.
“In some scenes of the film I talk about a place I am passionate about, the delta which is a habitat for many species. Growing up in one village near the delta I have always heard stories that the water we were so reliant on came from Angola. When I was invited to join the expedition to witness the water source I was fascinated!” he said adding “Important questions of how long will Angola be able to give us water arose because if the delta runs dry animals will migrate to other countries. Tourists come to Botswana to see these animals, we would suffer a huge loss.”
Speaking to Time Out, Water explained his vast knowledge of the Okavango Delta, the behaviour of the animals as he rows his mokoro across the treacherous rivers. He has studied the river since he was young and as a man made his own mokoro which could accommodate goods and passengers as they traveled for 2 weeks to Maun to source necessities for the family. He shares that as a young child he witnessed a lot of animals attacking people crossing the river but has since mastered their behaviour patterns.
“Today I know the movement and behaviour of either a hippo or a crocodile. I am able to see from a distance that a hippo is ahead and we wait for it to pass to take a different route. When I am traveling at night the stars guide me on the animal’s movement. They reflect on the water and I am able to tell there is an animal ahead if the reflection of the stars in the water start dancing,” he explained.
Explaining how they met and roped in Mr Water, Project Director of the Okavango Wilderness Project, John Hilton said the project leader Steve Boyes was guiding a National Geographic trip to Botswana and went to Xakanaxa camp on the eastern side of the delta where he met Water who was employed by the camp as a guide then. Boyes preferred to ride on Water’s mokoro and it is then that he discovered that the poler has superior knowledge and skills of the delta. A relationship was forged which culminated into the first expedition in 2014.
Boyes further said they decided on shooting the film because the National Geographic is a story teller which has been an important component to reach global audiences to engage them into sensitive issues and human stories like Water’s journey along the river. When asked if we will now see Water living the life of a mega film star because he was the lead character, Boyes said Water was paid for the services he was roped in for even though he did not disclose the amount.
“Water is now the number one employer at the trust. The contents of the film were filmed on the expedition, he was not brought into the film as the star or talent. He was doing his job as a poler. It was more of what was happening at the time. You won’t see acting, it’s a spiritual journey that catches the essence of how man is like in the wild without material possession,” Boyes said.
For his part Water said what he was paid enough to sustain him, (madi ateng a lekane go reka phaleche).