“Nkashi: Race for the Okavango” Bags Jackson Wild Award

  • Locally produced film wins coveted award for “Original Music Score”
  • The awards are widely regarded as the nature equivalent of the Oscars




Over the Independence holidays, National Geographic Society’s film, “Nkashi: Race for the Okavango,” won the coveted Jackson Wild Award for “Original Music Score” at the Jackson Wild Summit in the United States.

The Jackson Wild Media Awards are some of the most prestigious in the world of nature filmmaking, and were launched to celebrate excellence and innovation in nature, science and conservation storytelling.


The highest bar


“The awards are widely regarded as the nature equivalent of the Oscars,” National Geographic Society Explorer, Thalefang Charles, said in an interview.


“They are considered the highest bar of achievement in natural history filmmaking. Nkashi: Race for the Okavango was also a finalist in the Global Voices category.”

Over 450 films entered the competition this year with over 1,100 category entries from 74 different countries around the world. Finalists were selected by more than 200 international judges who together screened over 1,000 hours of media.

Original Music Score 


The Original Music Score is “awarded for the original musical score that most enhances the natural history story of which it is a part”. The film curated a musical score that engaged local musicians and embodied the sounds, rhythms, instruments and expressions of the Okavango Delta.


The locally produced film, which was made in collaboration with a team of Batswana filmmakers, features six tracks by Motswana artist Thato Kavinja, well known as Koolkat Motyiko of “Seronga” fame together with his partner Mike Rosen as well as the Nature Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Composers Lab.

Said Kavinja: “Having grown up in the Delta, I relate with Nkashi: Race for the Okavango on many levels. Afterall, it’s about my home, Seronga, and our Wayei heritage.


“In many ways, my music is about returning to one’s roots, and I treasured the opportunity to make music for Nkashi for that very reason. 

Community Co-creation

“When we tell a Botswana story, it’s even more powerful when it’s set to our home-grown music and instruments that carry the sounds, emotions and melodies of the Delta.”

While in America, National Geographic Explorer, Charles, was also a part of the panel discussion on “Community Co-creation”. In his talking points, he advocated for international filmmakers to collaborate and work with local communities (filmmakers, storytellers) in areas where they are filming.


Said Charles: “I don’t want situations where filmmakers bring their entire crew to places like the Okavango Delta and deny local filmmakers opportunities to earn and learn from these big productions.

“My dream is to see more Batswana getting into nature storytelling, making wildlife films and making a living on natural history storytelling. That way many, people will join in the protection of wildlife because it won’t be seen as benefitting few foreigners.”