Film Analysis: O Bone O Ja Sereto

O Bone O Ja Sereto (“Watch out you are eating your Totem”) 

A preliminary film synopsis: University graduate Thato is unable to find a job out of school. He asks a family in his hometown if he can work for them and ends up falling in love with the daughter, Neo. The family is not happy about this, because Setswana tradition requires men to provide dowries. When Thato & Neo get pregnant, they kick Neo out. Neo’s mother comes to realize that they are truly in love, and supports their union at the expense of Neo’s father. When Neo’s sister brings a man home, their father is in support once he realizes that the man has money. Neo’s mother is not. This film is the first of 5 parts, making it the Botswana family version of the Godfather. A storyline that I did not completely understand was when one of the young boys in the family gets kidnapped. Perhaps this is a storyline to be developed in one of the later films.

O Bone O Ja Sereto, watch out you are eating your totem, means that you are eating something you are not supposed to eat. You are doing something that does not match your values.

I began watching this film once previously, and understood very little. I understood substantially more this time around, but still have some way to go. This seems like a film I could watch multiple times to assess where I am at in my language learning. I chose this film with Greene because it is a Botswana production. Many films in Setswana are produced in South Africa, and do not reflect Botswana culture.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.