Search - Wonders of the African World on DVD

Wonders of the African World
Wonders of the African World
Actor: Henry Louis Gates
Directors: Helena Appio, Nick Godwin, Nicola Colton
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2003     5hr 30min


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Movie Details

Actor: Henry Louis Gates
Directors: Helena Appio, Nick Godwin, Nicola Colton
Creators: Anne Dummett, Trevor Williamson, Ben Goold, Jonathan Hewes, Katrina Phillips
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/21/2003
Original Release Date: 10/25/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 10/25/1999
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 5hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Not the "Dark": continent of my childhood
Terry Goldman | Kents Store, VA USA | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Maybe the most important black African American alive today is Harvard and Cambridge trained historian/critic/writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr,....who takes a fresh look at the continent that boasts some 53 nations.
From the famous scholarly legendary Timbuktu to the Zimbabwe stones (formerly Rhodesia-named for Cecil Rhodes of the "scholars" fame- who would no doubt turn over in his grave were he to know how many Blacks have received this prestigious award), this six part travelogue/history lesson presents a more balanced view of Africa...especially ancient Africa than any other program of which I am aware.

My students are rivted to the programs largely because of Gates (smart, even as times a bit of a wiseacre but always Afro-centric) who asks the important questions that inquisitive minds want to know. We see salt and gold and black slavery as well as the progress made in the late 20th century by a continent that was ravaged by colonialism.

Hats off to Gates and PBS. Should be required viewing for all high school students. Not the "Tarzan" of my youth!"
The Dilemma
The Djeli | Ile Ife, Nigeria | 07/13/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Dont waste your time on this series.

Gates does not explore Africa correctly. First, when meeting some West African and Zanzibarian royals, the only thing he does is focus on their role in African slave trade. In my opinion the dynamics of the "trade" are already in question, but regardless this was unfair of Gates to do so. When he meets European royals he doesnt ask them about their regret for the African slave trade. It was totally unfair.

Speaking of Europeans, Gates, in his trip to ancient Ethiopia meets a English bishop and after reassuring the bishop that he was a loyal member of the Anglican (british) Church, he asked the bishop what he thought of the Ethiopian claim to the Ark of Covenant. Afterwards Gates claims they have the audacity to claim they have the ark and asks the Ethiopian bishop to prove it. In these instances it is clear that Gates is unfortunately too concerned with appeasing Eurocentric values and interests.

The next thing is while in Sudan, visiting Nubian ruins he lets a white lady speak and say that the Nubians where the first blacks to come into power during the 25th Dynasty in the 8th Century bce. However, Gates does not say anything about her comment. What about all the black pharoahs before that? In his book, which is just as bad as the film, Gates view on black egyptians is left vague as he claims "not all egyptian pharaohs where black". Does he mean the obvious Greek or Persian pharoahs of the last 1st millenium bce or does he mean indigenous pharaohs such as Akhenaton, Menes, or Mentuhotep? To appease his white colleagues Gates avoids addressing this directly but excludes Egypt from his book and primarily from his film.

What Gates proves to be suffering from is the internal conflict between being an african romantic or afrocentric scholar that puts passion over fact and being another eurocentric scholar. He seems to forget that he can be a legitimate historian interested in facts first without kissing up to Eurocentric values as he did in Ethiopia or by singling out present West Africans as responsible for the slave trade when he wouldnt dare do so in Europe.

Other than that, this DVD gets at least 2 stars for the simple fact that it is one of the only documentaries available that attempt to visit and discuss ancient and medieval African civilizations."
Worthy endeavor
Andre M. | Mt. Pleasant, SC United States | 02/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In seeing this, I would agree that Dr. Gates is a bit too joky and irreverent in some spots of this series, given that the tragedies of African history are no laughing matter. But overall, its a must for for African and African-American history fans and scholars.

Most Americans, Black or White, are clueless when it comes to African history, especially of the pre-colonial kind. Gates does anger afrocentrists by refusing to succumb to the black nationalist mythology of an perfect Africans, an all-black Egypt or downplaying the indigenous African slave trade, but a historian's guide is to search out the truth.

I played my students in my Af/Am history class the Mali segment, where our man explores the ruins of Timbuktu and displays not only the greatness of the Mali Empire and best of all, the Arabic books that were written by indigenous African scholars at the time. Not only that, but Bro. Gates is also helping scholars like Dr. John O. Hunwick to preserve these books. Actually seeing this did far more to destroy the Black inferiority complex among my students than a truckload of well-intentioned Afrocentric fantasy (why don't the afrocentrists focus on such REAL African history?) But that's an academic debate.

In either case, you may grit your teeth through Dr. Gates' flippancy and irreverence through much of this, but what he shows about Africa is truly worth seeing, and should be in homes and history classrooms."
Informative DVD on African History
Christina | Atlanta, Ga | 05/07/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I especially enjoyed the Swahili Coast, the Slave Kingdoms, and the Holy Land segments-- these segments were especially well-done. As a teacher preparing a lecture on African history for a college course, they really helped me prepare my lecture and they taught me a lot.

I found the Black Kingdoms of the Nile, The Road to Timbuktu, and Lost Cities of the South to be seriously lacking in historical and informative information. I thought these segments focused entirely too much on his travels through Africa (by this I mean his car trips, his bus rides, his boat rides, his trek through the desert, his plane rides, etc.), and not enough on the history of the areas he visited. Although he did provide some historical information, it was not well-explained and I thought he could have focused more on the history than on racial issues and how he was able to travel throughout Africa.

All in all, I enjoyed the series and learned a lot about African culture. I would especially recommend the Swahili Coast and Holy Land segments."