The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
A few words from the writer, Alexander McCall Smith
I wrote The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in 1996. It was published two years later, but it was not until
four years had elapsed that the story, now a series of books, began to be widely read. I admit to having
been surprised by this – and touched too. I had not expected a traditionally built lady from Botswana to
speak to quite so many people. But she did.
There are several reasons, I think, why Mma Ramotswe has become a global character. One of these
is her country Botswana, that beguiling land of empty sky and dry beauty.
It is a peaceful country, a
good place, and I think that a troubled world wants to believe that such places exist. Well, they do, and
I hope that in the fine film which Anthony Minghella and his colleagues have made the world will get a
chance to satisfy itself that the Botswana of the books is indeed there to be seen.
The other reason is Mma Ramotswe herself. There is no real person on whom I have based these
books, but there are many women in Botswana who are very much like her – tolerant, kind, and
possessed of a dignity that defies cynicism. Again, I think that people throughout the world want to
believe in such a person. Our age has a violent face; we feel the need of somebody like Mma
Ramotswe who offers forgiveness rather than confrontation and recrimination. Such people are there;
we need only give them the space to breathe, the chance to talk to us.
Obviously, any author feels a certain trepidation when a film is made of his or her book. If I felt any
doubt at the beginning, that doubt has certainly been dispelled by seeing at first hand the love which
everybody concerned with this film has lavished upon the story. Mma Ramotswe, I am sure, is safe.
This film is best-watched with a cup of red bush tea at one's side. And an open heart.