The feature documentary, created in Botswana, in Setswana to celebrates the people of Botswana, their cultural heritage and traditional knowledge, and their commitment to preserving the Okavango Delta and its headwaters through the story of the Nkashi Classic race officially premieredin Gaborone’s Riverwalk mall at Capital Cinemas on Thursday 9 March 2023 to the glare of distinguished industry leaders including President HE Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.
National Geographic Society (NGS) and De Beers, through their Okavango Eternal partnership announced the world premiere of the groundbreaking documentary film Nkashi: Race for the Okavango will take place at dual events in Maun and Gaborone, Botswana on March 7th and 9th respectively. The film, made in Setswana in collaboration with Batswana filmmakers, showcases the wonder and importance of the Okavango Delta and Botswana to the world was officially introduced by His Excellency, Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana.
The television world premiere of the film also took place on Botswana Television’s BTV 1 channel on March 9th at 8 p.m. local time.
Nkashi: Race for the Okavango tells the story of three mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) polers in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. As they prepare for the annual Nkashi Classic – a time-trial race, founded in 2018 by the Botswana Wild Bird Trust (BWBT), that attracts the fastest mokoro polers in the Delta – they also contend with grief, the local impacts of climate change, and the urgency of preserving the tradition of the mokoro and nkashi for the next generation.
“The Okavango Delta is globally known as home to captivating wildlife. But films made in the Okavango Delta have rarely told the stories of its extraordinary people, who have been protecting our water, wildlife, and traditions since the beginning of time,” said Thalefang Charles, a producer of the film and National Geographic Explorer. “It’s incredibly powerful that Nkashi: Race for the Okavango celebrates mokoro polers and their stories, in their own language. I’m delighted that with the platforms of BTV and community screenings, Batswana, especially the people from Okavango, will finally see a film that was made in their own communities.”
Nkashi: Race for the Okavango and the annual Nkashi Classic race are made possible by Okavango Eternal, a five-year partnership between National Geographic and De Beers to help protect the source waters of the Okavango Delta and the lives and livelihoods they support. The film was created by the Impact Story Lab, an award-winning, creative unit within NGS, in close collaboration with Batswana filmmakers and local production company, Parable Motion. Several Batswana led key roles in the film’s creation, including cinematographer, producer, sound recordist, and drone pilot. The film score also features tracks by Motswana musician Thato Kavinja and the Nature Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Composers Lab.
“At the National Geographic Society, we are working to ensure a brighter, healthier future for our planet and its people. It’s why we are so deeply committed to helping protect the Okavango Basin – one of the most critical conservation efforts in Africa,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, Chief Executive Officer of the National Geographic Society. “Nkashi: Race for the Okavango exemplifies the power of storytelling to shine a light on the people whose lives and livelihoods are deeply connected to this vital ecosystem. We are honored to work with the community members featured in this film, the local storytellers who made it possible, and our Explorers and partners who engage, educate, and advocate for the preservation of the Okavango Delta and its headwaters.”
Al Cook, CEO of De Beers Group, said, “Botswana is a country of natural beauty, unique culture, and inspiring stories. De Beers has been a partner of Botswana’s people for more than 50 years and we are proud to join with National Geographic to highlight the importance of the Okavango Delta and the essential work of the communities who preserve it. Botswana’s long and highly successful track record of conservation – and the irreplaceable role of the Okavango Delta in the regional ecosystem – are well known locally, and through ‘Nkashi: Race for the Okavango’ we are privileged to help share this story.”
Pictures by National Geographic Society