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African Holocaust | African Race | The appreciation or relevance of Africaness is located in the face of a multi-racial world and the primary function of defining African identity is first and foremost an exercise in political self-interest and African agency. The power of definition must remain with the majority and today African is a term used to super-umbrella all the indigenous ethnicities of the African continent and their modern-day descendents in the Diaspora





Until lions tell their tale, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter

African Proverb

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will

– Frederick Douglass

The most pathetic thing is for a slave who doesn't know that he is a slave

– Malcolm X

Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.

– Ancient Egypt

There is nothing called an "innocent image", images are either controlled by us, or there are not. Whites role in narrating the African story is always to identify themselves, exaggerate their role, credit their genius, set agendas or locate their idealogies inside our story- not some of the time - but all of the time. But like innocent children we are so trusting we never ask who made it, and why

– 'Alik Shahadah

What kind of world do we live in when the views of the oppressed are expressed at the convenience of their oppressors?

– Owen 'Alik Shahadah

We are not Africans because we are born in Africa, we are Africans because Africa is born in us.

– Chester Higgins Jr.

Leave no brother or sister behind the enemy line of poverty.

– Harriet Tubman

If we stand tall it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.

African Proverb

If we do not stop oppression when it is a seed, it will be very hard to stop when it is a tree.

– ' Alik Shahadah

If the future doesn't come toward you, you have to go fetch it

Zulu Proverb



Cinema a tool of revolution

Alik Shahadah
'Alik Shahadah 12-2009

All art is propaganda....I do not care a damn, for any art that is not used for propaganda
W. E. B. Du Bois

There is no denying the power of media; it has been the fundamental social marker of our century.

It is becoming more dominant year by year and more than a tool for entertainment it is a political cultural weapon of mass indoctrination. It is a central aspect of modern human culture and all the dominant powers have engaged it as a critical aspect of development.

There is no conspiracy any longer with the US militaries role in Hollywood as a tool of propaganda for the "War on Terror" or for the purposes of propaganda around the world. Top Gun, Black Hawk Down, GI Jane, Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, all are blatant collaborations between Pentagon and Hollywood; a relationship of mutual exploitation for promoting the American Empire.

Non-Western humanity is not deemed to have box-office appeal, dead or alive. They are the "other" who are allowed, at best, to be saved by "us". In Avatar, James Cameron's vast and violent money-printer, 3-D noble savages known as the Na'vi need a good-guy American soldier, to save them
John Pilger {1}

Tarzan 2011

So what is the role of media, particularly the moving picture, in the Pan-African struggle? Film in particular has an enduring quality, which channels human expression into singular bodies of work. The documentary film, especially in the last 5 years has becoming one of the most profound narratives of the human experience, but rarely has this experience expanded to embrace the Pan-African struggle. And considering the primary source of negative stereotyping of Africa is done via media it is critical that Africans globally demonstrate agency culturally and politically via this mechanism.

And we need to take a look at who makes these films and why certain roles win our people their Oscars (a reward for betrayal in most cases) Ms. Berry for example. Who is the director and writer given the task of carrying the African voice?

Filmmaking is a profession; Just like a surgeon, a teacher, and a pilot. Making films is a professional discipline which requires training and investment. Too many filmmakers treat it as a hobby--it is not a recreational activity--but a career choice. Filmmaking is an industry, it creates jobs, opportunities, for those involved. It is a trade, a business, a skill-set. And if we want an African voice represented in media, filmmaking must put food on the table for those who take up this craft. That ultimately means laws and education around intellectual property rights.

Therefore who owns and profits from films which put us into "expected roles"? Who made Inviticus, Who made Cry Freedom, who got to tell the story of The Help? It is not us the African who shapes these stories or profits from any of their rewards; political, social and fiscal. And this conversation is often lost while busy focusing on the finish product.

Tomorrow our children will ask "Where are the films on Africa by conscious Africans?" and our reply would be "They were one and two, but we did not think them important to buy, now there are none
'Alik Shahadah

Right and Wrong, is determined by the "worthy and unworthy" conditions imposed in Hollywood. Cowboys and Indians, and Vietnam war films. The Americans were the good guys. But then you have to asked how come the "Good guys" are in someone else's country? What was Black Hawk doing down in Somalia? Why was Rambo in Vietnam? It was okay for G.I. Jane to do a sortie in Libya; how about we do the reverse a film where Libya recovers a down satellite in Virginia?

There is nothing called an "innocent image", images are either controlled by us, or there are not. Whites role in narrating the African story is always to identify themselves, exaggerate their role, credit their genius, set agendas or locate their idealogies inside our story- not some of the time - but all of the time. But like innocent children we are so trusting we never ask who made it, and why
'Alik Shahadah

If you haven't notice there is a criteria African American actors must meet in order to get an award from the master. Denzel can do his best work and play Malcolm, but you will not win for that. Your reward comes from doing what? Being a gansta, being a prostitute, a gay teen, being the help, Being the mamma, being obese, a patriotic solider, driving miss crazy, being the white mans lackey, an African dictator (Forrest) pimping (Terrance), playing the part of a sell out African leader. All director by the White likes of Clint Eastwood, or Craig Brewer and in some rare instances the good old House Negro. Some African Americans etc, are so desperate to be loved, so desperate to be integrated, so in need of a paycheck in a system design to write them out of history, they will sing, dance, applaud their own demise.

There is an image of an African that the white world is comfortable with -- from South Africa to America--that image dominates and shapes African identity more than African culture. We are only considered "authentic" via the "Up from the Ghetto narrative", the "loxion" (township/location) coming of age tale, the semi-noble savage. This is the mono-dimensional African the world expects and celebrates. So a diverse and creative people always represented by a singer struggling from the hood to get on American Top Idol. An African boy from the squatter camps who becomes a famous footballer and goes to Europe. And the new insult is the oppressed African who learns to forgive white people and "move on." This is what is expected in an African film.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate – and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box
Edward R. Murrow

Halle Berry reward for degrading her race Ebony, et al, for trinkets help integrate the African demise into the American discourse. Turning despicable acquiescent actors and ball players into national heroes of America's former slaves. Meryl Streep - as just one example - 17 nominations and never did she had to do what Halle Berry did for hers, or Octavia Spencer from "The Help". The price for the golden statue is to degrade yourself or reinforce something negative: Hang men in our own execution. And what about the films celebrated in the West that are made by Africans? Viva La Riva received rave reviews and even was on HMV's shelves but a quick look at the movie and it is about crime,drugs, prostitution.

Also go and look at the producers/funders, are they Black or White? Are there any surprises how the reward structure in film works?

In Hollywood their is an invisible boundary line that no African American director is allowed to cross. They might get radical, but they do so within the limits. Very rarely does someone venture outside of this line. And it is not the popular names they keep throwing at us. Sure Spike Lee has made an amazing contribution to the African American story, but notice how year after year the "radicalness" has dwindled as he is kept in-line. Finally washing out with films like Inside Man, yet another pro-Jewish Holocaust exploitation package. Some think that their stay in Hollywood has afford them license to peruse their Empowerment ambitions, but they are sharply reminded about the boundary line.

And part of our problem as African people is we are happy with a very low threshold. So if they throw one or two dark skin people on the screen we are cool. If some guy with dark skin makes a pile of poisonous gang banging celluloid that is okay -- he is black. That's the standard of "Okay." Well it isn't okay. To say we have "Black films" has no meaning if they repeat the negative, degrading, mono-dimensional agenda of Western cinema. When people do not know themselves, you can show them African actors in a monkey suit throwing bananas at the audience and they will be give a standing ovation.

When people who have disposable income for all the trappings of life do not purchase these films, they are sending a clear message. That they have no value for liberating media. They send a clear message to all the future content to be made, that "don't waste your time". They confirm what Eurocentrism said, "Africans don't care about history". Supply and Demand, explains why when you go in a store you can find everything that destroyed an very little that liberates. Its not the White man that did that, its the choices most of us make that did that. The future is ours to create or destroy.

Hollywood is really running out of brainwashing ideas, think about it, How many times have we seen the Middle Class dedicated White teacher going to to teach in the Inner City schools? This Tarzan is able to reform the wayward youth and give their hood life meaning.

The mass media become the authority at any given moment for what is true and what is false, what is reality and what is fantasy, what is important and what is trivial. There is no greater force in shaping the public mind; even brute force triumphs only by creating an accepting attitude toward the brutes
Ben Bagdikian (The Media Monopoly)

For far too long, a majority of Africans have been indifferent to misrepresentations about who they are. They have remained 'objects' of the ill-informed caricatures of a once glorious heritage disfigured by colonial and post-colonial predators
Chido Nwangw

500 YEARS LATER: Ground breaking definitive multi-award winning documentary. Prehaps the best documentary ever on slavery. Filmed in over twenty countries and on five continents, 500 Years Later is a compelling journey that chronicles the struggle of a people from enslavement who continue to fight for the most essential human right - freedom.ON DVD

Buy now Motherland

Film is the new guardian of human rights it is the voice of the voiceless; the watchdog on democracy. It holds the world in awe and focus like no other mass means of instruction can. It fashions and shapes attitudes globally about places and people never seen. If you ask someone to close their eyes and you said “Africa”, the images that will swamp their mind are AIDS, famine and war. Poverty death and destruction are images reinforced to perpetuate the cycle of defeat in the global African mind, all via the conduit of mass media. The reversal requires a re-imaging of the continent to restore African agency and rebuild the self-esteem of a people who have been victims of an ongoing Holocaust; physical, economic, spiritual and cultural.

Instead of referring to the real world, much media output devotes itself to referring to other images, other narratives; self-referentiality is all-embracing, although it is rarely taken account of
Angela McRobbie

Media is the greatest cultural export of America. It is the reason American culture is felt in all corners of the globe. It is what created and solidified the "American Dream." It creates a demand on things "Made in America" all via the multibillion-dollar instrument of Hollywood. American cinema was an political instrument of propagation to prepare America for World War II with Hollywood turning out volumes of war films pre- Pearl Harbor. Japan did the same to increase patriotism and the Japanese ideals. Nothing in film has been without national political interest in the battle for hearts and minds.

Cinema at the start of the 21st century is indisputably the great art form of our time…a major conduit for ideas and expression. The screen is now where dreams of every shape, hue and meaning leap into the public mind-crossing language and cultural barriers to excite hearts and minds as art must, and as no medium has ever done before.
Michael Rabiger

Although cinema is a relatively modern innovation it is rooted in an ancient human tradition, that of the storyteller. Anthropologist denotes the storytelling experience as one of the key markers in human cultural development. It is around the campfires where storytellers cast their magic, dreams were forged, and social bonds that would allow human beings to eventually venture into outer space were developed. Thus, the modern storyteller or Griot [1] is the filmmaker and the significance of this in human culture is as important today as it was at the dawn of humanity.


They tell you about Peter to help Paul, but Paul and Peter are both European. They tell you about Shell and the environment so their NGO can get the government contracts in Nigeria, the funding to stay another 10 years. They always finding another disease in the belly of Africa to make a film about; to write a book about, to do research and get a grant about. Finding problems to sell us the fixes.

Information is given for a reason, and not all information is there to liberate. Europeans have been dominating our stories, the champions of 'selective human rights.' It is no hyperbole to say flip over the DVD or book do you see Tarzan or do you see you? 95% of the time it is Tarzan-- why? Is that accidental? And why should Africans still need white people to tell their stories (film) and write all our books for us -- are we children? It has to end.

"Human rights film" on yet another bleeding heart cause in some 3rd world jungle. Always them behind the camera! Sure they will tell you about this and that, they will never tell you about them. And if they do say something it is always them to come and save us.


Ever wonder why you see and hear the same 20 artists on the rotation on radio & television? Claims a blog. No, it's not because people are calling the radio stations requesting the songs incessantly.  The answer: media-consolidation. 90% of the media is controlled by only 6 companies: GE, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom & Time Warner. Compare that to 1983 when media was owned by 50 companies.  According toFreePress.net"media consolidation means less diversity in programming and ownership, fewer voices and viewpoints, less coverage of local issues that matter to communities and less of the unbiased, independent and critical journalism we need to prevent abuses of power." 


The Award for Best African film which does not talk anything political or spreads culture, has in stereotypical 'black on black' violence, degrades women, and does not offend any European goes to… (This is the future of African cinema)

If Africans remain mere consumers of cinema and television images conceived and produced by others, they will become second-rate citizens of the world and be forced to accept a destiny which will not take into account their history, their basic aspirations and even less their values, their imaginary and their vision of the world. If Africa doesn't acquire the capacity to forge its own gaze, so as to confront its own image, it will lose its point of view and its self-awareness
Gaston Kabore, FEPACI

Media is the new weapon of this generation. Every powerful nation engages in it before, during and after warfare. However, where Africa is concerned, this neglected arena is primarily used to sponsored images that contribute to a low perception of all things African. Two paradigms exist in the Western mainstream media 1. National Geographic (Cultural curiosity; tribes, bush meat, and lions) 2. CNN/BBC (war, death, corruption and famine). Both views narrated by Tarzan and his company of well trained apes. The mono-dimensional stories all locked into stereotypical ways the world is comfortable seeing African realities. Drug dealer, broken homes, ball-chasers, rappers, singing and shaking, ghetto culture. These stories are internalized and reflected back like a dirty mirror on how African view and chose to project themselves. Very rarely does film media affirms that Africans can apply their minds and succeed. Integration insures all people laugh and clap at every buffoonery via Hollywood and the films Europe chose to sponsor in Africa. And to add icing on the cake, most of these films are produced by European people, thus securing a social and fiscal victory in one stroke.

It is sometimes very sad what is passed off in festivals as "African cinema" for the most part it is Hollywood on a budget. The violence, the gansta glorification, or the poverty which you can get from CNN. The only difference is bad audio, terrible lighting, and worst scripts. And yes the directors are usually African. But even that is changing as White producers fund these films from the shadows.

The lions share of films made on African themes (Diaspora and Continent) are made to the tune of victim victim and tragic victim, directed produced written by an all white team. When you see a film on Africa, turn over the DVD and see who is making it. It is just as important as the film. All these films being pushed (By South Africa, etc) about "touching" African stories; singing Africans, dying Africans, war torn Africans, hungry Africans, war kids (Kony 2012), Black abortions. Not one of them is made by us. Under the guise of "Expose", "Shocking truth", "We want to share with the world" "good journalism", "cutting edge truth" it is funny that none of those terms create a new image for the African, but reinforce the myth of a failed state and a failed people, being saved by Tarzan. It is no longer enough to see African faces on screen, they must be behind the lens. So when world famous Danny Glover tries to get funding for a film about an African revolution in Haiti the producers replied "It's a nice project, a great project... where are the white heroes?'"[2]

  • They are very few African filmmaker
  •  African filmmakers are not funded
  • African filmmakers do not discuss own "distribution" more happy to "be distributed" (Nollywood being an exception)
  • African filmmakers do not have access to development
  • African filmmakers do not have access to publicity
  • African filmmakers are not supported by so-called African film festivals: Most films in African film festivals are of White agency, these films year after year win awards and praise.
  •  African filmmakers agendas are set from outside interest who ensure the topics do not conflict with the dominant race-class. African filmmakers do not feel confident to express their interest.
  •  African filmmakers do not approach art as a business
  • African governments do not understand or see film as a priority
  • The South African government sees film as a way of employing all White elements in the sector and trusting them to make films about African people. The stories naturally avoid the truths that dirty the rainbow.

We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The African filmmaker has to work 50 times as hard because of race and 200 times as hard if there is a Pan-African content. The African is denied a platform in white society and there is a need to create platforms independent, which fosters the expression of the African filmmaker, especially where issues of agency and self-determination were being expressed. Places such as the Pan-African Film Festival were created with this central ideology of reinforces positive images of self from a position of agency (i.e. African controlling image of self and owning images of self). However, The Pan-African film festival and others like AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards) with their bold titles are failing their primary mission year after year. These platforms intended for Africans, allow an increasing volume of Whites into an African market with their “Tarzan” films about Africans to compete in spaces where the African is already disadvantaged. The African is denied a competitive space, economically and ideological in Western society and the few so-called African space created for them do more to reward White filmmakers, the same filmmakers who have opportunities in their mainstream white world and now also in the African world. So the illusion of structures serving African interest again repeat the cycle of neglect. And if this was not bad enough both AMAA and PAFF are heavily influenced in their judging by the budgets that fund them, so no wonder we see South Africa taking home many awards, and where there is South Africa their is usually a dominant White voice. At the abysmally organized AMAA awards they are aping the superficiality of Hollywood but with the content which regurgitates the very negative images of Africa but via African agents or Europeans living in Africa. In the years of AMAA not one conscious film with strong Pan-African politics have ever won. And it is not a surprise, since AMAA relies on white handouts for publicity, validity and funding. So people like Dorothee Wenner (Berlin Festival) and Berni Goldblat (low profile filmmaker) will not allow African content to be radically different from the Hollywood and CNN images.

The 5,765 voting members of the Academy are far from representative of the moviegoing public. They are more akin to the old packed juries of the segregated South. A remarkable investigation by Los Angeles Times reporters pierced the screen of secrecy to reveal that the voting members are a stunning 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male. Only 2 percent are African American, and less than 2 percent are Latino. Their median age is 62, and only 14 percent are younger than 50. [2]

There is almost no quality control regarding the garbage content that is entered under the banner of Pan-Africanism.  Therefore, the awards initially design for the advancement and recognition of Pan-African ideals and African filmmakers does more to service White agendas and poor content. Content which is at times utter, divorced from Pan-African ideals of positive image reinforcement.

If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves
Howard Zinn

There is a long history of the missionary, military, the merchant and the media in under developing Africa. Africans are very accustomed to letting White come into African spaces and act as messiahs. Still we believe that they have our better interest. Like a child that believes its abusive parent really loves them. We would rather reward a white filmmaker for documenting Africa than celebrate an African for doing it. We reward their the very denial of agency and are satisfied to watch yet another White Tarzan project investigate and project images of African again and again.

So many things are said so often to us, about us and for us but very seldom by us
Steve Biko

Most Africans are unaware of how many lock doors exist until they try to open them. In addition, the privilege of even getting to the door is denied by structures of institutionalized racism. Hence, the economics of putting a film on the market is the first obstacle; the politics of funding is another doorstop, and then finally the grand obstacle of recognition and distribution.

Today the majority of the world knows about Darfur and it is not because of the African Union, the Sudanese government, or any government, it is because of one single fact-- media. And Africa, in terms of media, is the most backward continent, a fact that has allowed everyone else to make Africa the devil and victim in every story. A dilemma H.E. Meles Zenawi, blamed on African's shameful neglect. [2]

The difference between cinema and, say, poetry or music is that cinema requires capital in order to produce masterpieces. You can write a wonderful poem on a piece of paper, but you can't make a wonderful film without tens of thousands of dollars of equipment. Thus it is not surprising that cinema "discriminates" more than other arts between rich and poor countries
Piero Scaruffi

In one hand, most Africans claim to recognize the plethora of negative images, which for centuries have been perpetuated by Europe, in books, films, news, universities, against Africa. It is  voiced that Africa must do for self and African people must be agents of their own stories and controllers of their own images, like everyone else. If all of these things are true then what is the global African responsibility in actually building these tangible things so that they inhabit reality?

Once in a while we see a positive 'Africa season' – then western media revert to sensationalist and stereotypical coverage
Afua Hirsch[3]

Film like any industry must learn to crawl before it can walk; Africa's general underdevelopment is directly related to the malnourished media image. But media is more than a luxury, it is an agent of self-determination and cultural/political strength. America, beyond its threatening military might has a far more lethal weapon—media. African cinema cannot overnight produce the paychecks that Hollywood or even Bollywood can produce; the process must start somewhere and allowed to grow, as Africa grows. However, unless the process is started by some brave few then it will always be an industry waiting to happen, but never attained. The soap opera imitation, which banners itself as African cinema in no way delivers anything worthy of chronicling African history or culture. And clarity is need to distinguish these video productions from the serious cinema of a continent.

The inconvenient question is should the task of documenting African be left to the European institutions? When they come to document Africa, yes, they have the big budgets to tempt people into their headlights but they also have an agenda that displays a defeated Africa. Of the 800 million plus African people on the continent, who is willing to rise to the challenge to present Africa on her own terms?

Pilger writes: "My Oscar for the worst of this year's nominees goes to Invictus, Clint Eastwood's unctuous insult to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Based on a hagiography of Mandela by a British journalist, John Carlin, the film might have been a product of apartheid propaganda. In promoting the racist, thuggish rugby culture as a panacea of the "rainbow nation", Eastwood gives barely a hint that many African South Africans were deeply embarrassed and hurt by Mandela's embrace of the hated springbok symbol of their suffering. He airbrushes white violence - but not black violence, which is ever present as a threat. As for the Boer racists, they have hearts of gold, because they "didn't really know". The subliminal theme is all too familiar: colonialism deserves forgiveness and accommodation, never justice." {5}


As much as Hollywood produces garbage 24/7 you will find that its political (broad usage) content; films which support Western cultural values, imperialistic values, religious values, historical grandeur (Ben-Hur), racist values (Birth of a Nation). are far more frequent than we expect. If you know what you are looking for. So now looking at the list below we see Western cinema is not that funny after all.

The Birth of a Nation (1915) - $10,000,000
The Big Parade (1925) - $6,400,000
Ben-Hur (1925) - $5,500,000
Way Down East (1920) - $5,000,000
The Gold Rush (1925) - $4,250,000
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) - $4,000,000
The Circus (1928) - $3,800,000
The Covered Wagon (1923) - $3,800,000
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) - $3,500,000
The Ten Commandments (1923) - $3,400,000
Orphans of the Storm (1921) - $3,000,000
For Heaven's Sake (1926) - $2,600,000
Seventh Heaven (1926) - $2,500,000
What Price Glory? (1926) - $2,400,000
Abie's Irish Rose (1928) - $1,500,000

Almost every single film, including early works like "A Trip to the Moon" are film which show European accomplishment and intelligence, even when hidden in harmless films.


The so-called The #1 Site for African American Literature AALBC. which is suppose to speak in the interest of American Americans publishes reviews by Kam Williams who reviews every white man pieces of garbage from Iron Man II, to Transformers. This is what Africans do with their time, at the expense of reviewing Motherland, Sankofa, 500 Years Later or any serious film owned by African speaking for African interest. No they review all the white made documentaries which exploit the issues of African people. Who profited from the film End of Poverty and the all white Darfur Diaries?


One of the untreated ills created by the African Holocaust [3] was that of self-worth and self-actualization. The consequence of the Holocaust was the restructuring of African value systems, where the systems of Europe were set as the standard and Europeans as the perfect human example. As a result of this, organizations such as the BBC are valued over independent African film studios (where they exist), European scholarship is copied and allowed to predominate African universities, the model of governance for Africa, if to be successful, is believed to have to be patterned on Europe. Indigenous Africa ideologies and cultural norms are viewed as backward as compared to similar systems in Europe. The benchmark of Africa is not an African standard but one set by Europe. And anytime Africa is being measured with a European ruler it will always be second best. [4] If concepts of beauty and success are inherited from Europe then Africans become the intellectual and cultural orphan of Europe, the child that attempts to echo the actions of their parent. [5] This mental condition runs almost uninhibited through African lives, without exception, and for the sake of the future, it must be identified and cancelled.

The enslavement of millions of Africans disrupted the mythic realities of Africans and introduced into the African experience a fractured narrative. In fact, the enslavement of Africans meant that Europeans also colonized information about African realities. But the impact of the massive enslavement of African people did not only disrupt and corrupt African beliefs and discourses; it deeply affected the contours of discussion and the private conversations of other people. In fact, one can say that the distortions of African realities are at the core of modern discourses about the African continent to the degree that many individuals retain, after so many years of Afrocentric correctives, grotesque views of Africans and Africa
Molefi Kete Asante

When African projects are initiated, they are footnoting not only by Europeans but also by the very Africans they are created for. Even today in Universities there is a natural dismissal of work, which is outside of the remit of European academia. Thus a student doing a paper on the historical connection between Ethiopia and Egypt is thwarted in African universities for producing pseudo-history not valid in mainstream historical circles, where mainstream circles mean accredited by Europeans. The merits of doing a historical documentary on a township in Durban is meet with ‘why do you want to do that?' Approaching ‘Black' newspapers about a film about African issues is seen as a waste of paper, yet ‘Gangsters' and ‘Bling' produced by some bored White Middleclass upstart gets front-page coverage. These so-called ‘representatives of African communities' smile, bend and bow when Europe is again creating negative stereotypes on Africa, but strut nervous contempt at the Africans putting Africa in dignity terms. And it is interesting how everyone, but Africans, emerge from obscurity to take a crack at telling African stories. [6]


It is a continent about which a lot is said, but has very little opportunity to speak about itself. Africa does not have as much opportunity to tell its own stories. That is why I think images as a part of development is firstly 'cinema as a mirror of yourself
Abderrahmane Sissako

Name a "Black film” and look behind the lens; who wrote it, who produced it, who directed it? Amistad, a story of an enslaved African fighting for his right of return, the music by John Williams, the director Mr. Spielberg.  The loop of crisis means that African filmmakers compete with their European counterparts do not have access to funds and are not supported in either the Black Film Festivals or the White film festivals. The end result a diminishing return on the volume and quality of African films. The exploitive nature of the Europeans means that their is money to be made telling all the stories of Africa from a White "superiority" perspective.

This is just a sample, this list is so long it would be easier and quicker to just list the fims that Africans do own.

  • Mugabe and the White African: A film gathering sympathy for the “poor” white farmer  who owns 80% of African peoples lands. Now the government wants to reclaim the land it is the African who is the racist villain for breaking up their greedy claims to Africa. This film is pure evil as it has the cheek to focus on a minor story to the detriment of the horrors perpetuated by white racism in Africa. Regardless of Mugabe’s sins we would be downright naive if we think the media bashing of Mugabe is for humanitarian reasons. The sole issue the West has with Mugabe is he is setting a precedent in Africa for removal of White racist privilege that has gone unchecked by a continent of coward leaders.
  • Amistad: a story of an enslaved African fighting for his right of return, the music by John Williams, the director Mr. Spielberg.
  • Tsotsi: a story of violence in the African communities, where again violence is the portrayed as the natural reality of South African people in European perception; it sells and feeds the image of Africans being gang bangers, and semi-noble savages.
  • Last King of Scotland: reflects this, as it was not sufficient to tell the story of Idi Amin; surely, a notorious enough character in his own right but the fictional ‘White' character was inserted for apparent ‘appeal'.
  • Inviticus:  More nonsense about how Whites were the agents of liberation in South Africa. Again the White character dominants over all the Africans. (Just like Cry Freedom).
  • Cry Freedom: The classic example of the White Hero in an African story. Biko a legend cannot exist without a White character to anchor the story. A film about Biko was undeserving. The sympathy turns to focus on the White story footnoting the African tragedy.
  • Trouble The Water - Carl Deal and Tia Lessin (White)
  • Cuba an African Odyssey - Jihan (White Arab)
  • Ghetto Science - White
  • Life and Debt - Stephanie Black (who is White)
  • Amandla - White
  • Stolen (film about Slavery in North Africa) - All White crew, All victims Black
  • Soundtrack for a revolution Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (White)
  • Maafa 21 - Mark Crutcher (White)
  • White Gold - Proudly (Indian) South African
  • Fezeka's Voice - Exclusively White pushed 100% by Desmond Tutu
  • Rize: White man making a film about dancing in America
  • Africa United - Debs Gardner-Paterson (another White mockery of African Unity name) smiling cooning cheesy junk
  • The First grader - All White Director, Justin Chadwick
  • Kony 2012 - All White film focus on directors son since Africans are not notable.

Returning to the likes of Richard Attenborough we cannot blame him for his bias in Cry Freedom, he is by nature a European and is simply acting out his European weighted worldview. Every healthy person is sensitive to their race and culture so it makes no sense to ask John Williams to create more ‘African feeling' in his string arrangements for the sound score of Amistad.  Even strong stories of African struggle are with few exceptions created by Europeans: Amandla (Lee Hirsch), Roots (Collection of Whites), Life and Debt (Stephanie Black), Rize (David LaChapelle).

This pattern speaks directly to the social disinheritance, which is allowed to continue. Who is cashing in again and again on African tears? Why can't Africans be the central authors of their stories? So not only have African lands and minds been colonized even African struggles are being colonized, leaving Africans as slaves in their own revolution. The issue is not for Europe to become more sensitive in “pretending” to be African, the issue is amazingly simpler; it is for Africans to be agents in their stories and hence removing the problem all together. The concept that Europe is qualified in bringing out indigenous people's stories is just as arrogant as assuming Africans are and others are a worthless child-race.

A journey to the local media outlet see Michael Palin in Africa, or a PBS special on Africa produced by an all European cast called Tigress productions. This is the interface, which needs to be challenged; many Africans are caught-up in the incidentals of struggle. Being seen on a screen is not self-determination, especially when the gatekeepers, decision makers who determining the validity of African work are all European. The few African stories today are attempts to explain Africans to Europeans as opposed to Africans explaining themselves to each other. European institutions have always been in support of the "wine and cheese" Petit-bourgeois Africans who ride the fence broadcasting non-threatening images to Europe. [8] These mere fact renders the whole concept of “Black cinema” and “Black perspective” redundant. The solution is two-fold stop accepting others to control African stories and moreover support and create African by African productions.


Many think Sundance are liberal an accommodating of the African Voice, no there are not. There is no mainstream film festival tolerant of African agency. And some of us get confused because we see the shock revelation of some exotic disease, previously unknown, in some film directed by a white woman and think "wow" they are really getting into Africa. But every single film on Africa adds currency to the inherent presumed superiority of the West as the parents of Africa.

So Sundance et al is going to bring you the plight of the poor indigenous people in Australia and Congo but ask, who is making these films? Is it the people of these communities who feel frustrated and then tell their story? No. It is at the discretion of the privileged white elite of the world. Now this does not distract from the relevance and need for the subject area but what is under critique is the story is always from a White mans burden perspective with the subjects as a curious of white piety.

Not one film empowers people to feel proud of their history. So yes we get the Darfur film with the ex-army guy "exposing" the dark Arab presences, we get the woman holding the hungry orphans in Uganda, we get the expose of the poor White farmers in Zimbabwe, or the sell-outs of the South African liberation struggle. None of these films put Africans in their own stories. It is almost impossible for a film like Motherland and 500 Years later, regardless of how good they are to get into Toronto Film Festival and these other A-rated film festivals.  You always get the default "Thanks for submitting but we got such an overwhelming number of high quality entries this year and were unable to include everyone" interestingly "everyone" is usually everyone who speaks from a position of dignity on Africa.

Hollywood is so starved of talent in their little loop that they are cannibalise themselves. The budgets are getting larger and larger and the quality is getting lower and lower.  Because even at a billion dollars you cannot guarantee a good film. You can guarantee good effects, good cgi but not a good story or a good score. So Hollywood is desperate to source from so-called World cinema to stimulate the aesthetic and range of capitalist acquisition. This is where empty films like Slumdog Millionaire come in. Yes it has received critical acclaim and all the mass hysteria but is it any good? Is the script good? Is the acting good? It is just the Spice pick of the day. They could have picked any film and heralded it as the new bombshell. And of all the thousands of Indian made films it is interesting this one just happens to be  a 2008 British film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy. Of all the Indian films the one which rises to the top is the one which Whites own and control. And some of us are so force feed a altered reality we don’t see there is nothing accidental or innocent in these so-called underground hits. When the Chinese story has been absorbed into the Hollywood capitalist model, they then moved to India, Africa will be next with the temptation of Nollywood's rising industry. (ref)


China is emerging as a serious competitor to Hollywood. India is on the rise. And what they all have in common is a distinctive aesthetic which in an instances communicates the culture of the people making the film. Chinese and Japanese cinema evolved on a culturally independent paradigm. And through this process have a texture which is answerable only to itself.  So how do African people find a unique cultural voice within film, in a world saturated with Western film culture? This poses a challenge for any cultural minority, but it is especially difficult for a people whose development has been impressed upon by the greatest Holocaust in the history of humanity. However even from the ashes of this Holocaust a rich music culture was able to develop, which has arguably explored new dimensions by virtue of resistance and cultural exchange. But African musical development in the post-enslavement period is a completely different phenomenon, as compared with film, because African people pre-enslavement had a rich and sophisticated music tradition which they carried and developed throughout the dark voyage of enslavement. However, with the arrival of the motion picture medium, African people found themselves not only culturally disengaged, due to the pressures of racism, but also economically depleted. Because African music had a rooted ancient cultural aesthetic it was able to continue on an expanding trajectory (under the most horrid circumstances) to produce jazz, soca, reggae, gospel, et al. The African popular movie industry has never rooted itself in the ancient storytelling aesthetic, it drawn from a poor imitation of Western cinema but without the resources or sophisticated skills necessary to be successful in this imitation. Subsequently the concept of an African aesthetic is generally undefined, and worst there is no appreciation in Africa for films, which lean in this direction.

Pan-African cinema has a few great monuments due to contributions from Haile Gerima and the late Ousmane Sembène but a solid aesthetic is hard to define if defining cinematic contributions are so rare and far between. Only through greater Pan-Africanism could this centralized aesthetic emerge where the entire continent contributes to the inward development that other nations have done. One component which one may find critical to the properties of an African aesthetic is the social functionality of the art. In music hip-hop, soul, reggae, calypso have all in their pure form represented a voice of social mobility: a thermometer on the authentic voice of the masses. Today we know that these art forms have fallen far from this path with the exploitation of the major European owned western labels; weather for capitalist gain or political control they end result is a diluted useless self-destructive bland “art form.” [9] African-American cinema is a run of have been rap artist playing consumers, clowns and criminals. The few attempts at so-called multi-dimensional views of African-Americans only fall victim to mimicker of Hollywood models of success. The issue is one of a self-determined identity and as cultural orphans of White-Americans imitations is the only solid identity most have. Thus to conjure up an authentic African-American story is outside of the cultural realm of most. The continent of Africa is not faced with this dilemma. Africa is culturally weighted and has more than enough stories from contemporary to antiquity to fill cinemas for a thousand years. Thus when Nollywood continues to spin around a consumer, capitalist center it is very disappointing. The necessary detour critical for African cinema will never be realized If left in capitalist hands of profiteering businessmen. [10]


Pan-Africanism means all of Africa united under and African flag. However, how is this going to be achieved when the elements, which make up the progressive wing of change, are actively ignored and disengaged by the very keepers of Pan-Africanism? How can there be a Pan-Africanism that ignores the efforts of Pan-African filmmakers seeking to reconstruct the nobility of African people via the powerful instrument of film? How can they be a real tangible Pan-Africanism when there is virtually no relationship between independent business, grassroots organizations, film studios, musicians, et al? This form of Pan-Africanism is merely academic and mute, because beyond the prestigious governmental board meetings in the elaborate hotels the movement must reach the people. The sentiment of African union has ultimately to be a movement high to low, and low to high, which engaged through education the masses of the people, thus allowing progressive involvement from the people and the intellectual regeneration of the movement itself. The solidified identity of European and especially America was one indisputable forged in part with the mass media machines of Hollywood, the subsequent export of the Pax-American dream was in the hands of the filmmakers. So why haven't Africans engaged the media when it comes to its dream of a United Africa?

The business of unity is too important to be left to the whims and chagrin of leaders. It has to be anchored on sustainable institutions that are well thought-out and well costed and budgeted for
Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

All across the globe, Pan-Africanism exist in isolated pockets of vulgar individualism; fighting skirmishes against a battled harden imperialistic Western singular entity. Ignorant of the very first definition of Pan-Africanism, is unity. The word has become a cosmetic accessory more than a cause because if it is very meaning means unity and it is becoming more fragmented with more and more paper organizations without any pattern for delivering a unified Africa. Therefore, it is high time the broken-hearted Africans who have been victims of false hopes and dreams, which never come into season, be offered not those who talk about what we need to do, but are actively engaged in doing something. A school that has been built as opposed to someone talking about we need to build schools. A university, which instructs students in African languages as opposed to someone talking about that, is what is needed. 

If film is an important format, then the few who carry this heavy flag need to gain the support of the people who profit the most. If we scrub through the entire canon of Western Cinema, we see films like Gladiator, Troy, the entire sword and sandal tradition glorifying their history, or in the case of 10 Commandments, Hannibal Barca and Mummy Returns claiming other people's history. So the power of film is a fundamental aspect of identity and preservation of history. And the racist story in film is that of a noble Africa. Where is the story of Sundiata, the story of Mansa Musa, the story of Yared? Very few African filmmakers have even dared to tell these stories; some like Fuqua would rather vomit up the same nonsense, which demonized Africa. [11] If care is not taken when we finally see the glory of Abyssinia on the screen, it will be a distorted glory confiscated by Europeans, or a story of Uthman Dan Fodio but cast in the light of Idi Amin. If Africa wants to continue to wait on Europe for ideas or even funding it is a staunch denial of self-determination for Africa will forever see the politics of the funders in the final edits. The limits and scopes of the topics on Africa are testimony to this, the soft or irrelevant agendas will continue to plague the screenplays. Europe has always been smart in placing ‘Black' agents in positions to misrepresent Africa under the facade of authenticity.


So many things are said so often to us, about us and for us but very seldom by us
Steve Biko

It was not the wealth of Kemet that forged pyramids against the endless African desert; it was the will of the people to tap into their spirit and produce something unprecedented in human history, an enduring statement of their religion and culture for all to see and marvel in. We must not rest of past laurels of antiquity but in the tradition of the past continue to forge forward the spirit of humanity to express itself in splendor for the benefit of all. The flag of Pan-Africanism may be a heavy one but when all hands are on deck. For the future of our stories, in the modern medium of cinema Africans must insure that Pan-African cinema is flown high.

You can not measure an African success with a European ruler
' Alik Shahadah


* A more contentious argument lay in the assertion that Indians have already made better and more realistic films about poverty and corruption in India. Subhash K. Jha (author of The Essential Guide to Bollywood) remarked that this territory has already been covered by Indian filmmakers (Mira Nair in Salaam Bombay and Satyajit Ray in the Apu Trilogy). http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/features/2009/01/22/4762/

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