An African Journey Review: Out Of Africa

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


I usually groan whenever I see that there’s a new documentary film crew travelling to Africa as it usually means that we’ll be treated to terrible images of poverty and human suffering for an hour. While these images are necessary and can raise awareness of the awful conditions people still live in, there’s no variety to these programs.

Thankfully, Jonathan Dimbleby’s exploration of Africa is a much needed change of pace for the representation of the continent. The mission statement for his journey is to ‘Explore an Africa that is in my view is too often forgotten, but too important to ignore.’

Starting off in Bamako, Mali, Dimbleby throws light onto the economical situation. Mali’s economy is improving by 5% each year – a surprising statistic for a third world country but proves that even the poorest countries can pull themselves up, no matter what state the rest of the world is in.

The country is a mix of traditional practices such as genital mutilations and polygamy but it is growing and evolving as every other country does to embrace more modern attitudes, particularly towards women.

Dimbleby doesn’t ignore the poverty that holds down so many people in Africa but instead tries to approach the subject in a new way and, for the most part, he succeeds. During his time in the Niger Delta, he joins the sand diggers who spend seven hours a day dredging up sand from the river bed to sell to construction companies. The work is hard but the people are happy to be a part of the thinking behind the transaction as mud huts are no longer acceptable to people when concrete is a growing alternative.

Next, Dimbleby visits Ghana and meets with the King of the Ashanti people. He’s a well educated man who is deeply respected by his people because he is involved in their lives on a more intimate level than our own monarchy. I couldn’t help but be jealous of their system – at least their royal leaders do something that directly effects their people.

Dimbleby is shining a light on the parts of Africa we have forgotten about and although he’s doing it in a classically BBC reporter style, his insights on the different countries peoples, politics and customs are informative and enjoyable.

Luma says:

What a shame. Given Jonathon’s history and his knowlege of the continent he still comes across as a stereotypical, upper class, white man attempting to educate the already informed masses.