Growing up in Lesotho, Africa, a tiny country surrounded by South African borders on all sides, actress Fikile Mthwalo didn’t have to dream about royalty in other countries.
“We have a king and a queen, we've got princes and princesses and our people are just as crazy about our royal family as everyone else is about theirs,” the About Fate star tells EBONY. “It’s also an extremely mountainous country, our lowest point is actually 1000 meters above sea level. So they call us the 'Kingdom in the Sky.'"' When you go there, you are really close to the clouds.”
Blessed with incredible waterfalls, Lesotho has Katse Dam, “the second largest manmade dam on the African continent,” Mthwalo shares. “Because we're so mountainous, our valleys have collected a ton of water. We supply South Africa with a good percentage of their water supply."
Another unique aspect of the country was incorporated into Black Panther’s Oscar-winning costume design. “You saw the blankets with superpowers. Those are from our people, the Basotho tribe,” Mthwalo points out. “It does get cold, and we do get snow in the mountains, so we store our wealth in blankets. People buy very stylized blankets. When a baby's born, that will be the gift to the mother, or if a new bride is coming into the family, you're gonna give one of those blankets to welcome her."
Mthwalo grew up in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital city. “It’s a very small, tight-knit community,” she declares. “We ride horses, which I think is really unique about us.” Her upbringing in the Motherland gives Mthwalo a unique cultural perspective. “I basically spend my entire childhood there and I'm so happy that I did. I think there's something in being the majority. I have that experience where my teachers were Black. My doctors were Black, my first boyfriend and my first heartbreak. That’s something where I feel really rooted.”
Lesotho is a culture of resiliency. “Life does get hard and it knocks you down. But people get up and they get on. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm standing on the shoulders of giants. My grandfather, who lived northwest of the capital city owned a butchery and he basically served his entire community,” Mthwalo shares. “I’ll have strangers walk up and tell me, ‘You know, I used to shop at your grandfather’s butchery.’ I think, even with the remnants of colonialism and everything that outsiders tried to take away from the people, they really just kept going. I carry that with me, my ancestors, everywhere I go.”
Mthwalo is of mixed heritage. Her mother is from Kenya and Tanzania. “If you want good food, go to East Africa because that was the route for the Dutch East India trade and the ‘Spice Island’ Zanzibar.” The actress also has strong ties to one of the capital cities of South Africa.
“Right now, I am just loving Cape Town. We have a family home there. It's right by the ocean. You can go there for whale season around September," she exclaims, adding the cheese and wine are divine. "There are a lot of wine exports from Cape Town that don't come to America but go everywhere else. It's just lovely to drive through the wine farms. Come for the wine tastings, eat good food, go to the beach and see the penguins and seals.”
About Fate is currently playing on Prime Video.