AFRICA’S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS
Airs Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. on KPBS 2 + PBS Video App
Friday, June 5, 2020
Credit: Courtesy of Nutopia Limited
—Told From an African Perspective, Series Explores How Human Civilization Traces its Roots Back to the African Continent—
This series is available to stream on demand with KPBS Passport.
AFRICA’S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS is a three-part, six-hour documentary series hosted, executive produced and written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Professor Gates travels the length and breadth of Africa to chronicle the continent’s history from a firmly African perspective.
His journey takes him from the city of Great Zimbabwe to the pyramids of the Kingdom of Kush in Sudan, from the spectacular rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia to the continent’s oldest university in Fez, from the Blombos Caves in South Africa to Ancient Mali, the empire of King Mansa Musa, still thought to be the wealthiest person ever to have lived.
In this series, Gates chronicles a sweeping 200,000-year journey of discovery, showing the complexity, grandeur and diversity of many millennia of undiscussed and unknown details about Africa’s compelling and dramatic history.
Gates presents — for the first time for a popular audience — a new vision not only of Africa’s pivotal place in world history, but also the world’s relation to Africa.
Africa’s contributions to the human community’s development of art and language, writing and religion, agriculture and government, the arts and sciences are commonly misunderstood, or even ignored.
This landmark series presents a new and comprehensive narrative about Africa and the history of the extraordinary diverse peoples of its continent, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Cape of Good Hope, from the Red Sea and down the Nile River, and from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.
The series sizzles with exciting interviews with leading historians, creative writers, art historians, paleoanthropologists, geneticists and museum curators including the Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka; Kenyan paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey; historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University; Christopher Ehret of UCLA; Ghanaian scholar Emmanuel Akyeampong of Harvard University; and art historian Cécile Fromont, along with many more.
“Africa is the ancestral home to the human community and to many of the pivotal breakthroughs in the history of civilization, yet the continent continues to be stereotyped as an isolated and underdeveloped region in the mind of outsiders, devoid of any profound historical achievements,” says Gates...
“This series will dispel these myths and other inaccuracies about Africa through a detailed and riveting examination of significant historical events, such as the rise of its powerful kingdoms, the growth of extensive trade networks with the Middle East, Europe and China, seminal technological and artistic discoveries, and its peoples’ resilience in the face of harrowing past traumas. We made this series to end this ignorance about the African past, to reveal how Africans not only shaped the history of their continent, but also how profoundly and how extensively Africa has shaped the contours of our modern world.”
Episode 1: “Origins” repeats Saturday, June 6 at 9:30 a.m. on KPBS 2 - Journey with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to Kenya, Egypt and beyond as he discovers the origins of man, the formation of early human societies and the creation of significant cultural and scientific achievements on the African continent.
Episode 2: “The Cross And The Crescent” repeats Saturday, June 6 at 10:30 a.m. on KPBS 2 - Gates charts the ancient rise of Christianity and Islam, whose economic and cultural influence stretched from Egypt to Ethiopia. Learn of African religious figures like King Lalibela, an Ethiopian saint, and Menelik, bringer of the Ark of the Covenant.
Episode 3: “Empires Of Gold” repeats Saturday, June 6 at 11:45 a.m. on KPBS 2 - Henry Louis Gates, Jr. uncovers the complex trade networks and advanced educational institutions that transformed early north and west Africa from deserted lands into the continent’s wealthiest kingdoms and learning epicenters.
Episode 4: "Cities" repeats Saturday, June 6 at 1 p.m. on KPBS 2 - Gates explores the power of Africa’s greatest ancient cities, including Kilwa, Great Zimbabwe and Benin City, whose wealth, art and industrious successes attracted new European interest and interaction along the continent’s east and west coasts.
Episode 5: "The Atlantic Age" repeats Saturday, June 6 at 2:15 p.m. on KPBS 2 - Gates explores the impact of the Atlantic trading world, giving rise to powerful new kingdoms, but also transatlantic slave trade. Learn of the revolutionary movements of the 18th and early 19th centuries, including the advent of the Sokoto Caliphate.
Episode 6: "Commerce and the Clash of Civilizations" repeats Saturday, June 6 at 3:40 p.m. on KPBS 2 - Gates explores the dynamism of 19th century Africa, the “Scramble” by European powers for its riches, and the defiant and successful stand of uncolonized Ethiopia.
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The series is produced by Inkwell Films, McGee Media, Kunhardt Films and WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, in association with Nutopia. Written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Produced and directed by Virginia Quinn and Mark Bates.
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