Set during the onslaught of apartheid in 1966, Riches follows the physical and emotional journey of a young coloured teacher Mollie McBride and her son, Peter, from urban South Africa to a remote corner of Botswana.
Mollie's searching for an ideal Africa where she can belong. The reality of rural Botswana is not at all what she's hoped for. She's shocked to be confronted with the traditional attitudes of children towards non-Tswanas, and the general hostility of villagers and fellow teachers towards her. She can't see that it is largely her own refusal to conform to local ways that sets people against her.
To cap it all, Rra Ratse, the Headmaster, uses feigned kindness in an attempt to take advantage of her isolation. Rejecting his advances results in her immediate dismissal, with the headmaster labelling her as mad. Mollie has lost not only her job and only means of survival, but also her dignity.
Her dreams of living in harmony with'free' Africans are shattered and her joyful escape from the racial confinement of South Africa now seems to be worthless. In despair, she turns to drink and in a drunken haze lacerates herself by rejecting the only person who really loves her - her son.
The resulting mortification leads Mollie to cross the cultural barrier and extend the hand of kindness to someone in need. An act of reciprocal kindness restores her hopes and encourages her to fight for both her job and position within her new society.
"Poverty has a home in Africa - like a quiet second skin. It may be the only place on earth where it is worn with unconscious dignity. People do not look down at your shoes which are caked with years of mud and split so that the toes stick out. They look straight and deeply into your eyes to see if you are friend or foe. That is all that matters."
Director: Ingrid Sinclair