How do we choose who we love? What influences our choice of partner? Is it the media, our peers or the government?
In a perfect world, the answer should be none of the above, but that is often not the case. Unfortunately, too often the answer is “all of the above.” These constructs tell us who we can or cannot date, marry or be seen out in public with, but what happens when we challenge them? Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) explores this.
The film tells the true story of Seretse Khama (Oyelowo), who is the next heir to the King of the South African nation of Botswana in 1948 during Apartheid, who falls in love with a white London office worker named Ruth Williams (Pike). Soon, they marry.
However, the people of Khama’s homeland do not approve of their King’s spouse. Royalty are not to marry outside their race. But they love each other so what are they to do? Well, turning back and getting divorced is simply not an option for Khama. He wants to prove that couples can marry outside their race and still be happy. This is one of these situations that prove that love has no bounds and humans are loving, romantic creatures and government is a man-made construct so why should we make rules blocking our ability to choose who we love? Khama tries to teach the people of his nation but is only met with protests and his eventual exile? This raises the question: Why? Looking back now, this seems silly, being punished for who you love, but this is what life was like during Apartheid.
When viewing this film, it is hard to not draw comparisons to today’s political climate which is so heavily divided by race and we all need to remember that all these things whether it be race, gender, or sexual orientation, are all human constructs and that we are all created equal and need to learn to love each other. This is what Khama dedicated his whole life to, as well as the independence movement, and eventually created the first democratic government in Botswana and became its first president.
Overall, A United Kingdom, is a well acted and moving story about our ability to choose, love, and acceptance and speaks to our nation both politically and culturally.