Last night, 12 April, was the premiere of the first television series I had the opportunity to be a part of, Morwalela. I wrote it with another Motswana writer, Wame Molefhe. We put in a bid for the job and got it even though we were up against people with much more script writing experience than us- which was not that difficult since at the time our combined television writing experience equalled zero. The drama series was developed by an HIV/AIDS NGO in Botswana called PSI.
Although getting a book published is a process of compromise, television writing is a soup made with many cooks and in this case more so than in others. We wrote the scripts quite some time ago. We wrote 13 -thirty minute episodes, the final product is only eight episodes. The director is billed as the writer, I guess since he had to adapt our 13 episodes to fit into eight. I don't know, I'm only guessing as no one spoke to us about this.
Last night there was a live viewing at the BTV auditorium in Gaborone for people involved in the production. It was nice to watch the first episode with a roomful of people who worked to produce the series. I liked to see characters Wame and I created in our minds up on the screen in flesh and blood. Because we were not involved in the adaptation of our scripts, I think some of our initial motivation and thoughts were lost along the way and that was a bit sad, but I think this is the nature of the television game. It is a collaborative process and one can't be precious with their words. I thought the final product looked pretty great.
The programme is part of the national response to HIV/AIDS in Botswana. The hope is that the characters will help with behavior change in the country. It will be showed on BTV every Monday from 6:30-7:00 pm. If you get a chance to watch it, let me know what you think about it!
P.S. Curious about the title Morwalela? Morwalela means flood in Setswana. We were trying to think of a name for a fictional village and I remember being in our sitting room with my daughter and husband and us brainstorming ideas. We got a few, of which Morwalela was one of them. I took them to Wame- and the village and television series Morwalela was born.