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Africa: The Story of a Continent

Africa: The Story of a Continent is a documentary series hosted by Basil Davidson, describing the history of Africa. The series consists of eight episodes that present African history from prehistoric times to the mid-20th century. The series begins with a look at the cultures of early Africa, such as art and artifacts from pyramids, caves, and tombs from Egypt and Meroe in ancient Sudan. Then it takes a look at three different African groups - the Nok, the Dogon, and the Pokat - to point out the complexity of their lifestyles. It traces the roots of the medieval gold trade - which reached from Africa to India, China, and Italy. After then, the program tracks the prospering region of West Africa, burgeoning as a consequence of its wide-ranging trade achievements. Through the fifth and sixth episodes, the series deals with Europe's colonization of Africa. It describes the troubling link between European missions in Africa and the colonialism, and traces the terrible course of Europe's colonial "passification" of Africa in grim detail. Finally, through the last two episodes the series charts Africa's struggle for independence, and looks at Africa in the aftermath of colonial rule.

Episode 1 - Different But Equal
Basil Davidson examines the cultures of early Africa. Much of this information is based on art and artifacts from pyramids, caves, and tombs from Egypt and Meroe in ancient Sudan, with an emphasis on Meroe.

Episode 2 - Mastering a Continent
Basil Davidson takes a look at three different African groups, the Nok, the Dogon, and the Pokat. While many regard these societies as primitive, Davidson points out the complexity of their lifestyles.

Episode 3 - Caravans of Gold
This episode traces the roots of the medieval gold trade - which reached from Africa to India, China, and Italy - and examines its influence on the African continent.

Episode 4 - Kings and Cities
Basil Davidson tracks the prospering region of West Africa, burgeoning as a consequence of its wide-ranging trade achievements.

Episode 5 - The Bible and the Gun
One of the more powerful influences on the development of Africa was exerted by the European missionary. This influence is discussed by Basil Davidson as being both good and bad.

Episode 6 - This Magnificent African Cake
After the 1880s, Europeans set about exploiting Africans in every conceivable way, forcing them to pay taxes, plant cash crops instead of food crops grown for survival, and work for low pay.

Episode 7 - The Rise of Nationalism
This episode charts the events that in 1957 resulted in independence for Ghana, the first sub-Saharan colony to achieve independence. And then it highlights similar uprisings against colonial rule.

Episode 8 - The Legacy
Davidson looks at Africa in the aftermath of colonial rule, featuring Lagos as an example of a rapidly growing, postcolonial African city, struggling with crime, traffic, electric supply, and other problems.


Related Links
History of Africa - wikipedia
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