Botswana’s unique sound has received international recognition after Nkashi: Race for the Okavango — the debut feature film from the National Geographic Society’s Impact Story Lab (ISL) won a Jackson Wild Media Award in the “Original Music Score” category.
The Jackson Wild Media Awards are some of the most prestigious in the world of nature filmmaking, and this year’s competition saw over 1,100 category entries from 74 countries. The awards were held on September 28 during the Jackson Wild Summit in Wyoming, USA. Botswana’s own Thato Kavinja also known as Mr. Seronga, produced six tracks for the film and licensed his viral hit, ‘Ko Seronga’. The soundtrack also features two tracks from the Nature Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Composers Lab, which is part of the Society’s Africa Refocused program.
Following the awards, Thato Kavinja said having grown up in the Delta, he relates with Nkashi: Race for the Okavango on many levels. “After all, it’s about my home, Seronga, and our Wayei heritage. In many ways, my music is about returning to one’s roots, and I treasured the opportunity to make music for Nkashi for that very reason,” he said. Producer of the film and National Geographic Explorer, Thalefang Charles, said it has been an honor to take this film from Botswana to the world, and expressed hope that it would set precedent for other filmmakers to collaborate with local storytellers and return films to the communities where they were made.
He said traditionally, films about the Okavango Delta have rarely featured people, and seldom were they even shown or made available to audiences in Botswana. “Mokoro polers are the ‘living libraries’ of the Delta. Through this film, their stories and traditional knowledge will live on and be passed to future generations. And now people in Botswana and the world over know the Delta is not only rich in nature and incredible wildlife, but in culture and community,” Charles said. Meanwhile, the National Geographic Society was also recognised with another award as National Geographic Explorer Ciril Jazbec won “Short Form – Climate Categories” for his Society-funded film Dream to Cure Water. It is said that over 450 films entered the competition this year with over 1,100 category entries from 74 different countries around the world. Finalists were selected by more than 200 international judges who together screened over 1,000 hours of media. The Society was a finalist in two other categories: Healy for “Natural Science – Short Form” and Nkashi: Race for the Okavango for “Global Voices.”