Following the film’s world premiere in Botswana, the groundbreaking documentary film Nkashi: Race for the Okavango will premiere on National Geographic Wild on Saturday 24 June 2023 at 18:00 (CAT).

The film, made in Setswana, in collaboration with Batswana filmmakers, and music composers from South Africa and the continent, showcases the wonder and importance of the Okavango Delta and Botswana to the world. 

Nkashi: Race for the Okavango tells the story of three mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) polers in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. As they prepare for the annual Nkashi Classic – a time-trial race, founded in 2018 by the Botswana Wild Bird Trust (BWBT), that attracts the fastest mokoro polers in the Delta – they also contend with grief, the local impacts of climate change, and the urgency of preserving the tradition of the mokoro and nkashi for the next generation.

View the trailer here

Nkashi: Race for the Okavango and the annual Nkashi Classic race are made possible by Okavango Eternal, a five-year partnership between National Geographic and De Beers to help protect the source waters of the Okavango Delta and the lives and livelihoods they support. The film was created by the Impact Story Lab, an award-winning, creative unit within the National Geographic Society, in close collaboration with Batswana filmmakers and local production company, Parable Motion. 

Several Batswana led key roles in the film’s creation, including cinematographer, producer, sound recordist, and drone pilot. The film score features tracks by Motswana musician Thato Kavinja and the Nature Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Composers Lab including South African musician Marcia Buwa. 

“The Okavango Delta is globally known as home to captivating wildlife. But films made in the Okavango Delta have rarely told the stories of its extraordinary people, who have been protecting our water, wildlife, and traditions since the beginning of time,” said Thalefang Charles, a producer of the film and National Geographic Explorer. “It’s incredibly powerful that Nkashi: Race for the Okavango celebrates mokoro polers and their stories, in their own language.”

“At the National Geographic Society, we are working to ensure a brighter, healthier future for our planet and its people. It’s why we are so deeply committed to helping protect the Okavango Basin – one of the most critical conservation efforts in Africa,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, Chief Executive Officer of the National Geographic Society. “Nkashi: Race for the Okavango exemplifies the power of storytelling to shine a light on the people whose lives and livelihoods are deeply connected to this vital ecosystem. We are honored to work with the community members featured in this film, the local storytellers who made it possible, and our Explorers and partners who engage, educate, and advocate for the preservation of the Okavango Delta and its headwaters.”

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