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David Oyelowo Will Star In & Produce Seretse Khama Feature Project - Botswana's 1st President

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by Tambay A. Obenson
December 4, 2013 6:04 PM
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David Oyelowo

As I said in a previous entry, David Oyelowo is having a very good year! 

After co-starring in Lee Daniels' The Butler, the 37-year-old thespian recently added the thriller Captive to his burgeoning slate of upcoming projects that also includes Cynthia Mort's Nina Simone film; starring as Sugar Ray Robinson in a previously-announced biopic; an indie drama titled Nightingale; reuniting with director Ava DuVernay to play MLK in Selma; co-starring in Christopher Nolan's upcoming Interstellar; is said to have met with director JJ Abrams regarding a role in the upcoming Star Wars franchise reboot; and more... 

The actor has has signed up to play yet another notable real-life human being in Seretse Khama - Botswana's first president from 1966-80 - in a feature film titled A United Kingdom.

Deadline says the project's focus will be on the relationship between Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams, the young white woman who would eventually become his wife, and the inaugural First Lady of Botswana.

The pair met in 1947, and eventually made headline news all over the world, after falling in love and getting married, while Seretse Khama was an heir to the chieftainship of the Bamangwato tribe in Botswama.

Seretse was educated in South Africa and studied law in England, in the 1940s, where he met Ruth Williams, the daughter of a retired army officer. 

Here's more from a novel on the couple titled Marriage of Inconvenience: The Persecution of Ruth and Seretse Khama, penned by Michael Dutfield:

At first, the marriage was no more welcome in Africa than in government circles in Whitehall. Within a year of their wedding, the young couple had provoked an astonishing series of events that have never been explained. The British government was determined to prevent Seretse taking his rightful place at the head of his tribe. The Bamangwato, to their credit, accepted the marriage and welcomed Ruth as their queen. Attlee's Labour government embarked on what appeared to be a vendetta against them, robbing Seretse of his birthright and his people of their chief. In the process, Seretse and Ruth were forcibly separated while she awaited the birth of their first child.

"Attlee" refers to Clement Attlee who succeeded Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of the UK.

The couple's son, Ian Khama, is currently president of Botswana. 

The film that Oyelowo will star in will be backed by Pathé UK, the same company behind another feature based on the life of a prominent African figure, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

A search is on for a director, with shoot dates scheduled for next year in London and Botswana, with Oyelowo also serving as producer, alongside Rick McCallum, (long-time George Lucas producer), Brunson Green, Justin Moore Lewy and Charlie Mason

The film is being made with the cooperation of the Khama family, which issued the following statement regarding the project:

“We are pleased that the story of Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Khama is being brought to life in the film A United Kingdom by Pathe. Our family has been regularly involved in development of this film so far, having collaborated closely with the screenwriter Guy Hibbert in what we believe is a wonderful script. We are equally pleased that David Oyelowo will lead the cast as Seretse.”

Ruth Williams Khama has yet to be cast.

Check out a 1965 interview with the couple below, discussing their desire to create a multi-racial, democratic society in Botswana, their family life and home.

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