How much would you sacrifice for love?
The late Seretse Khama knew sacrifice for love – his choice to wed his Oxford University sweetheart, Ruth Williams, forced him to renounce his throne as a ruler of the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland (now Botswana).
The two individuals, one an African prince, the other a middle-class English clerk from Lloyd’s of London, married in 1948, a direct violation of South Africa’s ban on interracial marriage. This union (an “unfortunate marriage,” as some called it) led to Khama and Ruth’s exile in 1951, despite the couple’s popularity among the Bechuanaland people and Khama’s known skill at ruling.
They were allowed to return to Bechuanaland in 1956, but as private citizens, not members of royalty. But this didn’t stop Khama’s political savvy – with Ruth at his side, Khama founded the Botswana Democratic Party in 1962, and he became Prime Minister in 1965. In 1966, Khama was elected as Botswana’s first president after he and Ruth led the country to independence from British rule. That same year, Khama was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
Khama died at the age of 59 of pancreatic cancer in 1980. Ruth died in 2002, at 78 years of age, of throat cancer. Their four children opted to bury them side-by-side.
British film director Amma Asante (known for “A Way of Life” and “Belle”) has began work on turning this beautiful, though political, love story into a film, set for a late 2016 release, starring Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl,” “An Education”) as Ruth Williams Khama and David Oyelowo (“Selma,” “The Butler”) as Seretse Khama.
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