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Africa First: Volume One

Short films from some of Africa's most compelling new talent. Pumzi: A futuristic film set in Nairobi, Kenya where the outdoors is extinct and has been outlawed. Saint Louis blues (also called N'Dar): A musical about a cross-country trip through Senegal in a battered taxi, as passengers sing their stories. The tunnel: In a small village in Zimbabwe terrorized by soldiers just after independence, a little girl creates a fantasy where her father escapes to freedom through a tunnel. The abyss boys: Two brothers who are abalone poachers in a South African fishing village try to escape their lives--but trying to escape causes their own destruction.
Clemons (Stacks)

The Making of Sun City [electronic resource]

With Nelson Mandela still in prison after two decades and human rights abuses growing worse, more than 50 popular musicians came together in the summer of 1985 to take a stand against state-sanctioned racism in South Africa. "Artists United Against Apartheid" recorded an album to broadcast their boycott of the lavish Sun City resort, located scant miles from poverty-stricken communities suffering under the racist regime. This classic program is an expanded version of the original 1986 film that documented the recording of the Sun City album. The video features Steven Van Zandt, Miles Davis, Bono, Run-DMC, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Herbie Hancock, and many, many others singing the anthemic "Sun City" chorus and explaining why they chose to take part in the protest.

The Hamar and Karo Tribes [electronic resource]: The Search for Mingi

Ethiopia's closely allied Hamar and Karo share many practices that help to sustain their traditional lifestyles. This program enters the world of these warrior peoples through their attentiveness toward mingi, or imperfection, and the bullah, a coming-of-age ceremony in which a young man hurdles a group of tethered bulls after a female relative, in a demonstration of respect for him, has invited other male family members to whip her. The role of the village metalworker, whose craft is prized and yet who is required to live apart from Hamar society, is also examined.

The Mursi Tribe [electronic resource]: The Day of the Donga

Much has changed in modern Ethiopia, but at least one thing remains the same: the Mursi are still among the fiercest warriors in Africa. This program, a study of life among the Mursi, features footage of a donga, a punishing yet graceful stick fighting competition through which young men display their bravery, establish their status, and perhaps even attract a young woman to marry. Mursi mysticism and faith healing are also considered, as well as customs such as the use of large ceramic lip disks by women as symbols of beauty and wealth.

Africa's Forgotten Kingdom [electronic resource]: Treasure Seekers

Deep in the heart of southern Africa stands the remains of a once mighty city, Great Zimbabwe. In the 9th century AD, this mysterious civilization reigned supreme, flourishing on the Zimbabwe plateau. Then suddenly, somewhere between the 14th and 16th centuries, it passed into oblivion, leaving behind only a riddle: who had built these massive walls? Obsessed by rumors of mysterious ruins, German geologist Carl Mauch survived kidnapping and robbery to rediscover Great Zimbabwe in 1871. Was this the legendary city of Sheba, he thought, whose queen captured the heart of King Solomon? Fifty years later, an archaeologist in her quest for the truth unearthed an even more remarkable past. Had Great Zimbabwe been the center of a powerful black culture, one of the greatest cities of its time [...]

Land Rush [electronic resource]: How Do You Feed the World?

Seventy-five percent of Mali's population work as farmers, but with no clear ownership rights, rich nations like Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have been scooping up prime land and using it for large-scale agribusiness production. Some Malians see this as an imperialistic land grab, but others feel that leasing deals could result in new economic opportunities for all. This program explores the pros and cons of a
2012; 2013

Crafts and Crafts People [electronic resource]

Adesuwa, age 10, and Akugbe, age 11, are going to have new party dresses made. They choose a tie-dyed fabric, and we learn how it is made. We also learn how the famous bronzes were cast. They are still being made in the traditional way, although the hand-pumped bellows has been replaced by an automobile battery-powered fan. Today's chief bronze caster narrates the dance drama that explains how the bronze casters became the most important craft guild in Benin.

Home to the Village [electronic resource]

Most urban Nigerians retain strong ties to their home villages. Many, like the Izevbigie family, return for planting and harvesting-suitcase farming, it's called. This program compares the life of the city-dwelling Izevbigies with that of their country cousins, as well as the games they play. Grandmother tells the story of the treasure at the end of the rainbow.

Sorcerers of Zaire [electronic resource]

For the rural Chokwe tribe of southwestern Zaire, hardship and starvation are a way of life. The mood in their villages is one of austerity and mystery. To assure that their modest food supply is distributed fairly, the Chokwe use a complex system of reprisals in which sorcerers are hired to resurrect ancestral ghosts to haunt those who hoard goods, causing them illness and death. This program, from the award-winning producers of Healers of Ghana, focuses on four patients and two healers, following them through their traditional medical treatments. The program also observes the rigorous initiation ritual in which masked dancers help prepare boys for manhood.

Land of the Dogon [electronic resource]: World Heritage in Peril

With its traditional peak-roofed huts nestled along the Cliff of Bandiagara, the Dogon people's homeland looks idyllic, like something from a child's storybook. But the Dogons are facing real-world problems. Fear of al Qaeda keeps tourists away, the younger generation is bored and restless, and precious artifacts are disappearing, though UNESCO has made this part of Mali a World Heritage Site. This extraordinary program immerses viewers in Dogon village life as farmers, tour guides, and elders discuss the challenges of modernization. The film captures Dogon efforts to protect their famed wooden sculptures, with the help of a local museum; in addition, villagers open up about myths and rituals in a land where ancient indigenous beliefs, Islam, and Christianity continue to coexist.

The Afar Tribe [electronic resource]: A Bride's Story

This program provides an introduction to the Afar by recording two major life events: the arranged marriage of a most reluctant bride and the initiation of a nervous would-be warrior. Can Fatuma, daughter of the clan chief, steel herself to marry her first cousin Ali, or will she seek escape - perhaps through suicide? And will Mohammed be able to retain his stoic poise during his ritual circumcision? The Afar belief system, a blend of Islam and ancient traditions that underpins these crucial events, is explored.

Somalia [electronic resource]

Featuring American journalist and NPR and PBS foreign correspondent, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, this classic program examines human rights in the African nation of Somalia.

South Africa [electronic resource]: A Human Rights Success Story

After years of political violence by both the African National Congress (ANC) and the white minority government, leaders realized that they were locked in a mutually harmful stalemate. A negotiated settlement was the only way to prevent more bloodshed. Negotiations for a transition to majority rule opened in 1990 and, unfortunately, led to an increase in political violence. This episode explores how this violence threatened the transition to a multi-racial democracy. Judge Richard Goldstone discusses the conspiracy at senior levels of the South African security forces to sabotage the transition to majority rule. Also featured are excerpts from Bethany Yaarrow's film "Mama Awethu" about women in South Africa. Also, "Freedom Charter," a song about the struggle to end apartheid is perfo [...]

Rwanda [electronic resource]: After the Genocide

After World War I, Belgium took control of Rwanda from a defeated Germany and promoted the rule of the Tutsi tribe over the entire country. The 1959 Rwandan Revolution saw Hutu activists force more than 100,000 Tutsi into neighboring countries. Violence began again when the country gained its independence in 1962. The repression continued for decades, but economic growth lessened the violence. Over 100 days in 1994, the Rwandan Genocide killed 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu. This episode looks at what has happened in the country since then. A Rwandan wedding ceremony and the birth of new families demonstrates the progress in healing old wounds. Also featured, is an interview with Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. Roth discusses the impact o [...]

Nigeria [electronic resource]

Since gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria has had a poor record on human rights. This episode looks at the situation in the midst of 33 years of military rule. From the promised elections that were aborted by the military junta, the execution of a prominent human rights activist, and the actions of the U.S. government and Shell Oil Company, Nigerians have been denied basic human rights. The worldwide response to this situation is examined. Included is a report on the lobbying efforts in the U.S. by American corporations, non-profit organizations, Nigerian nationals, and the American public, due to its position as Nigeria's largest trading partner. Also featured is an excerpt from "Ken Saro-Wiwa: An African Martyr," the final interview with the human rights activist before his execution.

The Wodaabe and Tuareg Nomads [electronic resource]: Stealing Beauty

Though sometimes in conflict with each other, the Wodaabe and Tuareg have a common enemy in the arid lands of central western Africa they call home. Filmed in part during the height of the dry season, this program offers insights into both of these warrior tribes through two of their major celebrations. For the polygynous Wodaabe it is the worso, a flamboyant courtship festival that frequently ends in the "abduction" of an additional wife. And for the matrilineal Tuareg, it is a festival featuring camel racing and dancing. The vital importance of water to the survival of both peoples is underscored.

Trade and Human Rights [electronic resource]

After years of working to end apartheid in South Africa, including 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela and the ANC are now in power. In this episode, the new South African president discusses his plan to forge a 'government of national unity' in South Africa. Also featured is a discussion on the controversial linking of trade and human rights, including China's "Most Favored Nation" status, with Henry Kissinger, Lane Kirkland, the Dalai Lama, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck, and former Chinese political prisoner Wang Juntao. And finally, a look at the film "Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy" which explores the spiritual resistance of Tibetan nuns persecuted by their Chinese occupiers?

South Africa [electronic resource]

This episode is dedicated to the celebration of the anniversary of Nelson Mandela's 1994 election. James Earl Jones and Alfre Woodard narrate the American/South African coproduction of "Countdown to Freedom: Ten Days that Changed South Africa." Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, President Mandela's eldest daughter, discusses her father and her position as affirmative action/equal opportunity advisor to the University of Witswatersrand. Twelve hundred former prisoners of Robben Island join together at the Cape Town prison for a reunion and conference. Also featured is a music video of "Never Again" by the rap group Prophets of the City?

21 Up South Africa [electronic resource]: Mandela's Children

This documentary follows on from "Seven Up South Africa" and "14 Up South Africa." Filmmaker Angus Gibson returns to the 20 children he interviewed in his original films, learning that although the political struggle has given many of them opportunities their parents were denied, a tragic story has emerged. The youngster's biggest battle has been the war against AIDS and not all of them have survived.

Beyond Borders [electronic resource]

The Hadzabe were forced off the Serengeti when it became a conservation area in the 1950s and have been forbidden to hunt there ever since. When filmmaker Paula Palacios brings chief D'anny and best hunter" Tanu to visit Serengeti National Park the men are awed by the abundant game their fathers had been free to pursue, and frustrated that the Hadzabe are now relegated to inferior lands. This program provides an intimate look at how two tribal leaders respond to both threatening and attractive aspects of 21st century life, even as they insist on retaining Hadzabe ways.