I’d like to start out this blog post by saying that the following is not meant to be a movie review because I am not a movie reviewer. I don’t have any experience in the genre and don’t fancy myself an expert on acting, directing, cinematography or costumes.
So please take what follows as a public service announcement, an FYI if you will; here is a movie that just came out that I enjoyed and that I think people in the jewelry industry should see, if only to better understand the history behind one of the world’s biggest diamond producers.
A few weeks ago, thanks to the Diamond Empowerment Fund, Signet, the GIA and Fox Searchlight Pictures, I attended a special screening of a movie called “A United Kingdom” here in New York.
Shot in London and Africa, “A United Kingdom” tells the true story of how Botswana earned its independence and became a democracy in 1966. The film touches–albeit lightly–on the role diamonds played in that.
The movie stars David Oyelowo (Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma”) as Seretse Khama and Rosamund Pike (nominated for an Oscar for her turn in “Gone Girl”) as Ruth Williams.
The film starts out in post-World War II London, where the black Khama meets the white Williams. They fall in love and get married but, predictably for the time period, nobody is happy about it.
The mixed-race marriage stirs up both familial and political strife.
Khama, you see, was heir to the throne of one of most powerful tribes in the country, at that time a British protectorate called Bechuanaland.
It also happened to be the British protectorate that sat atop South Africa, which at the time was on the brink of instituting the racist apartheid-era policies that would govern it for the next 50 years.
British officials did not want the Khama-Williams relationship to anger the ruling party in South Africa and endanger its access to the country’s natural resources–gold, diamonds and uranium–at a time when the government was reeling financially from the war.
So they conspired to keep the two apart, even exiling Khama for a period of time.
But in the end, it didn’t work.