Reporters on the Job

What's Real in Botswana? Reality and make-believe are often so close on a movie set that you can get confused. Is that woman across the street really selling oranges or is she an actor? Does Jill Scott, the American R&B singer, really speak with a Botswanian accent?

As correspondent Stephanie Hanes tried to keep out of the film crew's way on the set of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana , she thought that maybe this blurring between reality and make-believe is even more the case in Africa – a place that people in the West often define in simple terms (see story). "Westerners forget, as actor Lucian Msamati pointed to me, that 'Africa' is a continent with more than 50 very unique countries."

The Alexander McCall Smith books upon which the movie is based have been criticized for being too "sunny," and not like the "real" Africa. But Mr. McCall Smith groaned when Stephanie asked him about it.

"It's about time that somebody told about the good things, he and Mr. Msamati said. Not just the 'newsworthy' things. It's important to tell a story that reflects those millions of Africans who go to work, go home, have happy families, and lead, good, normal lives, they told me. As I traveled around Botswana, I realized that I couldn't agree with them more," she says.

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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