Curiously, Botswana was pretty much backwater in the best sense of the word, as the former British protectorate of Bechuanaland, sandwiched between Namibia and South Africa. It made a smooth transition to democracy and even today retains a measure of old civilities that have been all but been abandoned in the West. Like in some parts of Nigeria even today, many customs reflect British connections, like a boy named Wellington, and spoken English dotted with words like ‘absurdities’ and ‘trifling’.
Precious, along with unique friends and clients, are embroiled in several mysteries, all contained in the movie, which I was pleased to learn is serving as a pilot for a series. There’s the philandering husband played by Nigerian David Oyelowo, then an insurance scam, medical fraud and other really interesting stories-within-a-story. This being Africa, witchcraft factors into some plots, as well, with the most memorable one played by a wonderfully in-top-form Idris Elba, pulling his gangster off with cool danger and unspoken menace. Humour aside, Precious’s is a story of women who must learn to look after themselves because too many of the men around them cannot be trusted.
But Precious, like the movie, chooses to stay pure of heart. Magnificent cinematography and remarkable music make for a delectable treat to be enjoyed any time of the day, week or year for that matter. In the end, though, it all comes through as something that’s not different, but easily recognizable.
This review ends on the note which the movie began, as we hear Precious narrate the story of her upbringing by an upright father who taught her to be brave and independent, willing her a legacy, with which she opens shop as the country’s first female detective. “I love my country, Botswana,” she says with an infectious bounce, and vows that one way to show affection is to help people solve their problems. Now if only a Nigerian production – any Nigerian production – can emulate even a fraction of that!