Chiwetel Ejiofor has defended his latest film from criticism over its poor use of Chichewa, Malawi’s official language aside from English.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, out on Netflix on 1 March, tells the real-life story of Malawian William Kamkwamba, who built his own windmill and used it to provide electricity for his village. Dialogue in the film switches between English and Chichewa, which is subtitled, and many of the cast are from outside Malawi.
When the trailer first appeared some on social media questioned director Chiwetel Ejiofor’s use of the language. “Does Hollywood think Africans all sound the same? The accents are so bad,” commented one person in Blantyre.
Ejiofor told BBC Focus on Africa‘s Paul Bakibinga that the actors’ sensibilities were more important to him during the casting process than their familiarity with Chichewa.
It was more important to cast people who fit the roles very well… than just having people who could speak Chichewa well.
I would say reserve judgement until you see the whole film in its entirety, and bear in mind… we’re trying to tell this story as authentically as possible.”
Watch the full trailer here and decide for yourself:
First Published 19.02.19: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-africa-47276922