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They met at a dance organised by the London Missionary Society.1948 – After becoming engaged, they face occasional abuse in London where the sight of mixed-race couples was still a rarity.
Under pressure from tribal elders who could not envisage a white woman rising to the position of `mother of the nation’, the British government pressure the Church of England into denying them a church wedding.
A registry office wedding is hurried through instead.1949 – The couple move to Bechuanaland where Seretse’s uncle, Tshekedi, himself a pretender to the tribal chieftancy, sought to have the wedding annulled.
Love story: Tahlia Khama, pictured, describes the love story of her British typist grandmother who fell for African king Seretse Khama in London in the 1940s.
Pictured: Ruth and Seretse with the Queen and Princess Anne on an official visit to London in 1978 Five years after returning to Botswana, Seretse moved into politics and pushed for independence in 1966 in a victory which led him to become Botswana’s first President.
Pictured: Tahlia as a child with her father and brother‘My grandmother came from a very ordinary background, but her life was far from ordinary from the moment she had met my grandfather,’ said Tahlia, who met the film’s A-list stars at its London premiere last month.
But not long after they arrived in Africa the colonial authorities forced them to back into exile to live in Britain for six years After six years living and working in London in the 1950s, Ruth, pictured with her grandson Kaedi, and her husband were given leave to return to Africa – after Seretse’s tribe sent a telegram to the Queen to 'send us our real Chief - the man born our Chief'In the film, the tumultuous events of the unfolding love story move between the bleak grey of postwar Britain and the raw, burned-earth landscapes of Africa, chronicling the couple’s impenetrable bond in the face of vicious, racist plots to break it, which came from both sides of the equator.'They did not judge people by their skin complexions or their religions or details, they were totally accepting.
When I eventually say my own vows to someone, it will be based on equality and there must be no problems about race or religion.’ Five years after his return to Africa and a frustrating foray into farming, Seretse made a bold bid for power, getting elected as first Prime Minister of Bechuanaland, and then Botswana’s first President following independence in 1966.