Inspired by the Windrush Scandal that made life especially harder for immigrants in the UK, the film also seeks to tackle the common view among Batswana that the grass is always greener on the other side
At the European Film Festival hosted by Alliance Francaise de Gaborone last week, a short film called “Motswakwa” was screened.
The film, written and directed by Moreetsi Gabang, was nominated for the African Movie Academy Awards in 2019.
Motswakwa, which word is Setswana for foreigner, is the first film by a Motswana to be shown at the European Film Festival.
In a pre-screening interview with Donald Molosi – who is this year’s artistic consultant for the festival – Gabang said the film deals with the experience of Africans in the West and that it was influenced by his time living in London when the UK was making the asylum-seeking process harder for immigrants amidst the Windrush Scandal.
In the Windrush Scandal, many UK nationals were unduly deported to their countries of origin. At the time, Gabang himself was applying for UK residence and the difficulty of that experience inspired the film.
“I would love for Batswana to see the film and experience what other Black people in the world go through and to be able to empathise,” he said. “I also feel that there is this misleading narrative that the grass is greener out there outside of Botswana.”
Motswakwa, which was filmed London, examines how people can feel displaced in places they call home. “We seem to have neglected national unity when it comes to Batswana in the Diaspora,” Gabang asserted.
Said Molosi, speaking as this year’s artistic consultant for the festival: “I am inspired that the festival is welcoming films by Batswana. These gaps in our self-knowledge as Batswana, Africans and Black people are because of failure of education. We still do not teach what any of those groups share, what connects us as the Black world. Such films supplement that knowledge for us as Black people.”
The European film festival is a yearly event organised by the Alliance Francaise de Gaborone and the European Union office.
Regarding how he raised money for Motswakwa, Gabang says that his university cohort, predominantly from China, helped raise funds. “Also, the university funded us,” he told Molosi.
Gabang is currently working on a trilogy of short films that will be his first project in Botswana.