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Going Native (2001)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'African Village', originally transmitted on Channel 4, 28 August 2001

36 year-old Rob Nestor, along with wife Lynn and their three children, Daniel, 12, Chloe, 6, and Callum, 4, are challenged to live as some 400 million Africans live, without running water, electricity, telephone or any of the other amenities people in the West normally take for granted.

Situated in south-east Africa and landlocked on the border of South Africa and Mozambique, Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its one million inhabitants generally live in remote rural communities on subsistence farms. Into this most unlikely of environments for worthwhile cultural exchange, the Nestor family are cast and asked as much to show the British pioneering spirit as fortitude in the face of adversity. The Nestors have to survive with nothing but the clothes they bring with them and a small amount of money, equivalent to the average Swazi family income for two weeks. If they are to survive for ten weeks, Rob will have to find a job.

From the outset Lynn complains about the hierarchical structure of Swazi society. While Rob herds cattle and helps to repair the main hut with the men of the family, as a woman Lynn is told she is not allowed to wear trousers, her head must be covered, and she is not allowed to eat eggs or drink milk. In the morning she must greet all the members of the family by name. Initially Lynn is unwilling to adapt and considers going back to London after only a few days. Rob, who finds fitting in much easier, persuades her to stay, although his attempts to find paid work are quite feeble. In fact, throughout the ten weeks Rob fails to hold on to a job for more than a day. Of the children, only Daniel goes to school and his parents insist on him being exempted from corporal punishment.