‘West African accent sounds more “authentic” to a white Western audience’
Actor Donald Molosi’s dubbed West African accent in the Seretse and Ruth Khama biopic A United Kingdom sounds ‘authentic’ to a western audience than his Sengwato-tswana pronunciation.
According to the actor, his lines in the Hollywood film were edited and dubbed over in a West African accent which sounds nothing like how Batswana speak English.
“That is why in the film I sound “strange” and why my very Tswana character cannot pronounce “kgotla” the most Tswana-est word of Tswana words,” he said.
Molosi however said this practice is very common in Hollywood as film makers always reserve the right to edit their works according to their preference. This however cannot shield him from African watchers of the film and raise the anomaly with him. “They are the ones who want to talk about it,” he pointed out, explaining that he continues to receive queries about the Western African accent.
The Hollywood film recounts the story of Ruth and Seretse Khama and the star-studded cast is led by Emmy Award nominee David Oyelowo who plays the role of Seretse Khama and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike who plays the role of Ruth Khama. The film follows the story of King Seretse Khama ‘of Botswana’ and how his loving but controversial marriage to a white British woman, Ruth Williams, put his ‘kingdom’ into political and diplomatic turmoil.
In the film Molosi plays a supporting role of Kabelo, one of the Serowe headmen in support of Seretse and Ruth’s interracial marriage. After the film premiered in Botswana during its 50th celebrations many Batswana were disappointed with the fact that Molosi did not assume the lead role in the Hollywood film as Seretse Khama especially because he plays the lead role in his popular theatrical adaptation of the same story titled Blue, Black and White.
Molosi however advised that the accent anomaly should inspire African film makers to create home grown content. “There are many of us trying but sometimes even those of us who so desperately try do get chowed by the machine.”