A National Geographic product with local cast
The Nkashi: Race for the Okavango is one of the most amazing stories to be shot in Botswana with a local cast.
More often than not story tellers opt to narrate stories in human/wildlife conflict, but Nkashi stands out to tell a story of how human being survive in the Delta. This is an informative, educational and emotional story . The main character of the film, GB, his real names Gobonamang Kgetho paints the whole story with realism, thanks to his father who taught him well on issues relating to his culture.
Nkashi is literally the name given to a pole used to stir the canoe for easy sailing on water. Without this, there is no how one can have an easy life, according to GB.
"If one stays in the Okavango Delta and do not have an Nkashi then they are not considered to be man enough because it is our daily car. Without it, one would be forced to stay in one island," he said.
'Nkashi: Race for the Okavango' is a new, feature-length documentary by the National Geographic Society's Impact Story Lab (ISL). It's a film in Setswana, with English subtitles meant for the entire world to understand its concept. When GB was exposed to this opportunity, he never looked back because he says he has lived his whole life through the Nkashi.
Above all, he is one of the most respected polers the country has ever had. He works at the BWBT as the NGOWP's lead poler and is also member of the Seronga Polers Trust, where the casting of the story was mostly done.
He has actually crossed the Okavango Delta every year since 2010 with project leader, Steve Boyes, and all the large rivers in Angola and Namibia. This makes him an exemplary ambassador of the Okavango Delta and the
BaYei community. Interestingly, he is also from Seronga Village and has a keen interest in the culture and history of his community.
He told this publication that he is forever grateful for having been featured into a world class film sharing his culture with the rest of the world. He reiterates that he learnt it all from his late father, who was part of the actors crew of this film, as he shared his wealth of knowledge regarding BaYei lifestyle and how the Nkashi was made, as well as how it is used.
The film reveals the moment when GB received a call to be notified that his father had been missing for two days, just when they were getting ready to leave for the Nkashi Race. Nkashi Race allows all the polers an opportunity to compete against each other. Because of the sad news, the trip was suspended, as the production team started searching his missing father, Kgetho Kgetho. Unfortunately, the old man was found dead under his canoe 'mokoro' and so the production team also paused for the funeral preparations before setting another date for the competition.
GB is left hopeless, without his loving father who has taught him about the Delta. Nonetheless, he told BG Style that he had to gather his courage and bravery to keep on going because after all, poling is the way of their life. He tells BG Style that he grew up to learn to live in the delta, communicate with the flora and the fauna and also do his part as a human being to protect the planet because of co-existence between people, animals and plants.
"I can communicate with animals because it is in nature to communicate with anything in our surroundings. Plants already understand that a human being can protect them from being harmed by animals and animals also know that there is a boundary between them and human beings in terms of existence," GB said, noting that peace always reigns if people mind their business and take care of the nature than try to fight or scare animals in their space. Being the main charecter to this film means a lot to him because he is simply teaching people about his way of life.
He is forever grateful to National Geographic and De Beers company for this opportunity and says that this story of the Nkashi needed to be told, for people to know that the Okavango Delta is not just about the beauty of the animals found there.
"There are also people living there, and this is what makes this film interesting as the actors in the film are Batswana who live in the region, and the filming was done by Batswana, which shows our talent as a country," he said. He reiterated that very often film makers are only interested in showing the world about Botswana's natural resources only, so he is glad that now the world would know how the BaYei live.
This film was made with the highest firm of integrity, with the most expensive equipment that captures every detail with that clearer perspective. The visuals are filled with the lovely water waves of the mighty Okavango River, the way of lifestyle in the Okavango region, which includes traditional games, food, farming or cattle rearing, as well as the beautiful animals found in the region like lions, elephants and birds among others.
The realism of this film hits hard when GB who is considered a veteran won the champion of the Nkashi Race. Ralf, real names Nkeletsang Moshupa dismally loses. He was shuttered but acknowledged that a competition is about winning or losing and he is glad that the country has other powerful polers.
GB said he would live to educate people about his culture and continue poling as a way of life and a fun activity just like his father. He is of the view that being a poler needs someone who is loving and caring to be able to interact well with other people. "I work with many people from different corners of the world as a poler, and I enjoy driving them and teaching them about our country, as well as my culture," he said.