Mma Ramotswe: An Old And Welcome Friend

Amodini Sharma is a writer/movie critic and blogs at the Review Room and Amodini’s Movie Reviews. This post of hers won the first prize at the Women’s Web My Favourite Female Contest.

MFFcontestbadgefinal.jpgI ve written about the  The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency before. Reading it is like eating comfort food. This series features Precious Ramotswe, a female detective in Botswana. While I have come across many interesting characters in fiction, when it comes down to choosing a favorite female character, Mma Ramotswe wins hands down.

In Precious Ramotswe, the author, Alexander McCall Smith has succeeded in creating what I call a truly human character. Mma Ramotswe appears real; a real-life walking-talking person, with a heart and a brain and a mind of her own, a set of convictions, her very own beliefs, a value system on which she relies, and the capacity to negotiate the vagaries of daily life and fickle human nature with patience and an enviable composure. In other words, just like the rest of us; only better.

There are other qualities too which endear her. She is a woman, we are told, of traditional build . Now if, after reading that, you haven t laughed a little laugh in your head, let me know. I have read of many admirable heroines, whom I ve liked very much, but then you look at the cover, and see said heroine s cinched in waist and overly large bosom, and wonder which gene pool she came from 🙂 . After flipping through magazines which sell you the perfect figure and tools to make yourself into a wondrous, much skinnier version of yourself, and wondering when looking at your post-partum self in the mirror, as to the benefits of having a little on the side (pun intended), I am so happy to read of a smart woman who s happy with her traditional build, that I want to stand up on my virtual soap-box and applaud.

And then there is that common sense. A quality that is not as common as you d think, but must surely be found in the vegetables of Botswana, since Mma Ramotswe has loads of it. But she is fallible too; she feels anger, resentment, and mortification. She fluffs over the awkward stuff, attempts to hide her weaknesses and uses euphemisms when I would. She also makes mistakes, agonizes over the little stuff, worries over making the right decisions, basically waffling over all the little bits of life that normal people waffle over. But above all, and the most important quality in her character, and the one because she stands tall is her good heartedness, From this one quality stems the core of her character, her ability to treat everyone kindly and with fairness, and her ability to accord respect and understanding.

In Mma Ramotswe, Mr. Smith has created a one of a kind character. Separated though she is by cultures, physical boundaries and the very undeniable fact that she is fiction after all, she is still that old friend who, if she came by, would be welcome to stay.


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