Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.

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Posts tagged "documentary"

"Anita: Speaking Truth to Power."

Recently watched this powerful and compelling documentary about Anita Hill and the sexual assault case where she provided testimony against Judge Clarence Thomas who was then nominated for the US Supreme Court.

At the time Hill, who was a former employee of Thomas’ (who shamefully called the proceedings a case of ‘high-tech lynching’ as a way to deflect from the issue of sexual harassment by using race as a factor - the only factor), was a law professor at the University of Oklahoma where she grew up. She gave her testimony live on national television in October 1991 and, unbeknownst to her, the effect of her decision to speak out would almost immediately spark what the Boston Globe called, “a passionate debate about sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere”, and one that is far from over.

In a world where gender and racial oppression are systemic, and where victims are blamed and perpetrators shielded by the oppressive and shaming nature of rape culture, Anita Hill’s story remains both relevant and necessary in its telling. What’s I found particularly interesting about the film is how director Freida Mock conveyed this story in such a way that made it both Anita’s story and that of so many women in the United States and around the world.

Hill, now a professor and Brandeis University, has dedicated much of her life to speaking about sexual harassment and gender issues, as well as how these matters often intersect with race, as well as helping others find their voice. 

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DOCUMENTARY: “The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.”

In a world where segregation was back both by laws and social attitudes, it’s no surprise that the mainstream press in the United States served as a reflection of these ills.

Knowing firsthand the impact of words and images as weapons against their welfare, black people in the United States knew that left in the hands of racist publications, their representation, history, culture and identities would forever be at stake. Starting with communities and individuals of free black people in the 1800s, to the birth of more contemporary publications like Ebony, the power of images and the written word of black people by black people, and in the interests of black people, has always been an act of self-preservation.

This documentary brings to light a powerful and engaging account of American history that has been virtually forgotten: the story of the pioneering black newspapermen and women who gave voice to black America. 

Watch it here.


DOCUMENTARY: “Kaffir Culture” by Kannan Arunasalam.

In some parts of the world, the word ‘kaffir’, an Arabic term meaning ‘infidel’, is or was used as a derogatory racially offensive term in reference to black people. Used during the Arab slave trade, the it was later adopted by various European communities, such as the Dutch and Portuguese, to refer to the Africans they kidnapped and enslaved.

Through the enslavement of black people from the African continent to other parts of the world, the word found its way to Sri Lanka where it was used to describe the descendents of Africans brought there by Portuguese enslavers and British colonists from around the 16th century. But where in South Africa the world still carries a negative connotation even amongst black people, Sri Lankan kaffirs use the term boldly as a descriptor and a way of acknowledging their East African roots and heritage.

In this short documentary, filmmaker Kannan Arunasalam tells the story of a small group of Sri Lankan kaffirs, many of whom are mixed, and their struggle to keep their culture alive as their community shrinks.

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All Africa, All the time.

DOCUMENTARY: Soul Power (The Greatest Music Festival, 1974).

"In 1974, Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine set out to organize a music festival in Africa. Their dream was to bring together the most renowned African-American and African musicians in their common homeland. 

They approached boxing promoter Don King with the proposal to combine the festival with a little fight that King was organizing between Muhammed Ali and George Foreman. King had already persuaded President Mobutu of Zaire to underwrite and provide the venue for the fight. Mobutu agreed to host the festival, but declined to provide financial support.”

Released in 2008, ‘Soul Power’ is a 2008 documentary film directed by Jeff Levy-Hinte that chronicles the Zaire ‘74 music festival that accompanied the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between US boxing greats Muhammed Ali and George Foreman in October of that year. The film was made entirely out of archival footage, some of which was first used to make the documentary film “When We Were Kings”.

Performers in the film include James Brown, The Spinners, OK Jazz featuring Franco, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba, B.B. King, Pembe Dance Troupe, The Crusaders, Fania All-Stars featuring Celia Cruz, Big Black, Afrisa featuring Tabu LEY, The Mighty J.B.’s and Manu Dibango.

"When We Were Kings" is documents the fight between Ali and Foreman, mostly from the perspective of Ali, and includes breaks with talking heads providing commentary on the event.

This October will mark the 40th anniversary of both occasions.

Documentary: “Racism: A History”.

Currently watching this three-part BBC documentary on the history and global impact of European racism beginning with the origins and motivations behind the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the colonisation of the Americas.

The series thoroughly examines the relationships and power dynamics between the native populations of Europe, Africa and the Americas, as well as the social and economic factors that helped both create and sustain European-formed racist societies.

Part 2 | 3.

#TBTAfrica: The Black Pharaohs - Nubian Pharaohs (Ancient Egypt History Documentary).

Dr Vivian Davies claims that a recently discovered set of hieroglyphs proves that, in 800 BC, Egypt was under the rule of black Pharaohs from neighbouring Nubia. This film examines the impact of these discoveries.

Historians have long known about Kush, but relegated its importance to a vassal state of Egypt, significant only for its gold reserves. Early excavations in the Kush capital at Kerma suffered from the innate racism of the archaeologists. Fabulous grave goods, discovered in the 20th century, were thought to have belonged to Kush’s Egyptian overlords. They didn’t consider that a black African culture could have challenged Egypt’s supremacy.

The inscription exposed the truth. Although it won battles, Kush eventually lost the war, and for the next 1000 years, Egypt had the upper hand. But the inscription served as a warning prophecy to Egypt that it might pay a high price. The enslaved Kushites would have their revenge. Allowed, and even encouraged, to rebuild their own kingdom along the lines of Egypt, in 747 BC, Kush attacked the Pharaoh’s power in a daring land grab.

The Kushite king, Piye, overthrew the yoke, conquered mighty Egypt and established a 100-year rule of black Pharaohs. Even after being ousted from the Egyptian throne, Kushite kings continued to rule an empire as mighty as any, until the arrival of Alexander the Great. For a number of years, British Museum archaeologists have been making find after find in the Upper Nile Valley to substantiate this story - huge lost pyramids, burial chambers of 200 workers, and stores of gold.

The only thing that this documentary leaves me confused about is, if the Kushites are black, what race where the Ancient Egyptians? At times, I think it’s best not to racialize these portions of history, at least in the same manner that we racially categorize each other today, according the a white western lens, as race in past civilizations was not interpreted or structured in the ways that we’ve become familiar with.  Although I’m no student of history or anthropologist, in instances such as these I think it best to guide classifications based more on ethnicity than interpretations of race.




cool documentary: "Deaf Role Models in Kenya"

The idea of ​​this documentary was released by the Deaf Organizations of all seven East African countries plus Zambia during the East African conference “Deaf Education” in Kampala, Uganda in 2012. One of the main findings was that the early intervention program lacking in any East African country. The documentary could therefore contribute to increasing the awareness of parents and other stakeholders of young deaf children in East Africa plus Zambia.

"Staff Riding" documentary captures the risky and rebellious activities of train surfing in South Africa.

Just outside of Johannesburg in the township of Katlehong, young men, who fall somewhere between daredevils and wreckless rebels, find freedom and expression through a train surfing activity called ‘staff riding’ - a dangerous activity that involves riding on trains and performing perilous stunts and tricks.

In this short documentary, photojournalist Marco Casino captures this subculture through the eyes of those who ride, those who risk and those whose lives have been affected by it all.

TW: disfurgement, amputated limbs.

LONDON EVENT: FILM SCREENING - ‘Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me’.

Film Summary: South African filmmaker Khalo Matabane was an idealistic teenager with fanciful ideas about a post-apartheid era of freedom and justice when the great icon of liberation Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

In a personal odyssey encompassing an imaginary letter to Mandela and conversations with politicians, activists, intellectuals, and artists, Matabane questions the meaning of freedom, reconciliation and forgiveness—and challenges Mandela’s legacy in today’s world of conflict and inequality.

The film juxtaposes Matabane’s inner quest for coherence with the opinions of people who both knew Mandela and those whose political perspectives were shaped by him. Matabane weighs equally the words of his subjects, leading us to question these concepts as well.

Awards: Special Jury Award, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2013.

Event Details:

March 21, 2014
6:30 PM / Ritzy Brixton
Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Khalo Matabane
Presented with: Sheffield Doc/Fest, sheffdocfest.com
March 22, 2014
4:00 PM / Curzon Soho
Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Khalo Matabane
Presented with: Sheffield Doc/Fest, sheffdocfest.com

DOCUMENTARY: “Fantastic Man” - A Film About William Onyeabor.

From Lagos to London, New York to Enugu, music connoisseurs, industry insiders and intrigued individuals try to unravel the mystery of just who Nigerian pioneering musician William Onyeabor is. 

A fantastic documentary, about a “fantastic man”.

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All Africa, All the time.

On My Radar: Film - “Coach Zoran and his African Tigers”.

Despite my qualms with the title of the film (why couldn’t they have referred to them more specifically as ‘South Sudanese’ and not simply ‘African’?), after watching this trailer, I am highly intrigued by the premise of this film.

On the surface, this 2013-made film by director Sam Benstead documents a year in the life of a group of young men from South Sudan hand-picked to represent their newly independent country at their first international game, and eventually the country’s first major football tournament, and their often conflicted relationship with their overzealous Serbian coach, Zoran Djordjevic. Larger than that, the film brings to light multiple layers of stories surrounding the birth of a new nation - from the harsh realities of the world of international sports, to the always incredible nature of man’s spirit of endurance, even when misinterpreted. 

Watch an excerpt from the film here

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All Africa, All the time.

On My Radar: Three African stories told through film at Sundance.


Seen from the perspective of a young female protagonist, Difret tells the story of young 14-year-old girl abducted into marriage who, in an effort to escape, ends up killing her kidnapper and would-be husband. Following this incident, a trial ensues as the fate of Hirut hangs in the balance.

The feature debut of Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, the film is based on a true story that occurred in 1996.

Watch: An excerpt from Difret.

Fishing Without Nets

The topic of Somali piracy has been a hotly reported topic in Western media over the past few years. But as with most stories about Africa, the perspective from which it’s been told is often distorted, painting the pirates as scattered collectives of nonsensical rebels without a cause, leaving out much of the complexity of the situation. 

Watch an excerpt/short version of the film.

Finding Fela

If there’s one Nigerian artist whose consciousness has managed to transcend both time and culture, permeating the minds of Nigerians, Africans and the world at large, it is the man who claimed to not fear death - the iconic Fela Anikulapo Kuti. 

In Finding Fela, Academy Award-winningfilmmaker Alex Gabney tackles and dissects the professional career and personal life of the Afrobeat legend, bringing to life the controversial and contradictory life story of Nigeria’s most well-known musician.

Watch: Finding Fela at Sundance.

Hopefully these films will be made accessible to those of us on the continent!

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All Africa, All the time.

Documentary: “Lagos in the Red”.

Made by Danish filmmakers Lotte Løvholm, Karen Andersen & Nanna Nielsen, Lagos in the Red follows Nigerian performance artist Jelili Atiku. Atiku uses his body as a prop as a means of sensitizing people to the problems that Nigeria - both as a people and a country - face. 

This documentary particularly focuses on his performance ‘Red Light’ which he performs in Ejigbo, the neighborhood he was born and raised in. The color red in his performance symbolizes ‘life, violence, energy and the essence of human life”.

Once a fine arts student, Atiku is an art teacher in Lagos who stresses the importance of are as a symbolic tool, far above monetary value, used to communicate one’s emotions, preserve culture and history, as well as raising consciousness among people - especially in a country like Nigeria.

Related post: “Why don’t South Africans like performance art?

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All Africa, All the time.

MORNING MUSIC: Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Nomathemba.

It’s never to late to say congratulations! Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the legendary South African a capella group won their fourth Grammy at this year’s ceremony held this past weekend. 

The collective took home the award for ‘Best World Album’ for ‘Live: Singing for Peace around the World’, an award they shared with French flamenco group Gipsy Kings.

Founded by lead singer Joseph Tshabalala, the all-male choral group has been making music since the 1960s. Singing in the Zulu vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube, the group first gained worldwide prominence after collaborating with US artist Paul Simon on his hit album Graceland in 1986.

They received their first Grammy nomination in 1988 and, altogether, have been up for a Grammy a total of 13 times. The group have also been nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy for their short documentary film On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom.

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All Africa, All the Time.

Currently Watching: ”We Have To Free Our Imaginations”

"We Have To Free Our Imaginations" is Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s  a six-part series in which speaks on “the fear of imagination”. In it, Wainaina speaks on the need to decolonize our educational frameworks in Africa, the boundaries and limitations we enforce on each other through stigma, ignorance and even policy, globalisation, and the importance of ‘madness’.

Watch the entire series above (YouTube playlist).