Kamkwamba’s movie wins over sceptics

When Netflix released The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind official trailer which depicts the truelife-story of Malawian William Kamkwamba, debate ensued on the Chichewa accent used in the Hollywood produced film. 

However, the perception of Malawians on the movie, directed by American Chiwetel Ejiofor and shot in Malawi, seems to have shifted since the feature film made its screening debut on Netflix last Friday.

A scene in the movie

Malawians also had a chance to view the movie at a local screening which was organised by the United States Embassy in partnership with Participant Media at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) auditorium in Lilongwe on Sunday.

When we inquired if the Chichewa accent is indeed a problem, one of the Malawians who watched the movie at Bicc, writer Shadreck Chikoti, said he saw little sense in the arguments people were advancing.

“If I could ask a Tumbuka to pronounce a Chichewa phrase such as muli bwanji they would pronounce it differently from a Chewa.

“I have people writing and congratulating us from all over the world for both the story and the movie as a Malawian product. That is the important thing,” he said.

Malawian arts freelancer Tara Thindwa, who also watched the movie at Bicc, commended the movie stating that it is an excellent depiction of Malawi.

“The movie even reminded us living here what life is like for the average person in this country. If you haven’t seen it, you should,” she said.

American-based literary icon Nnedi Okarafor, who is the major architect of the award-winning movie Black Panther, was also all praises for the movie.

“It is about Malawi, family, the ancestors, science, honour, sacrifice, men women, girls, boys, education, invention, the land, a boy and his dog, politics, duty, rain, deities, culture, and more. I was delighted, moved and entertained. Great film,” she posted on social media.  

The dissatisfaction which people had on the Chichewa spoken in the movie by actors who are not Malawian became a social media sensation until Ejiofor spoke on the issue during an interview with BBC two weeks ago. 

He advised people to wait until they watch the whole movie so that they can get a better appreciation of what the film is all about.

“Let them see the film in its entirety and let them bear in mind that we are trying to tell the stories as authentically as possible. Yes, we are not all from Malawi, so our Chichewa and accent are not going to be all perfect and that is true,” he said at the time. na

Share This Post