Holland Festival x Pepr: Africa's Great Civilizations

Henry Louis Gates Jr

A new look at the history of Africa

The award-winning filmmaker and Harvard academic Henry Louis Gates Jr travels the length and breadth of Africa to explore the continent's epic history.

In the six-part series Africa's Great Civilizations, Henry Louis Gates Jr discusses the history of the African continent, from the origins of mankind to the end of the 20th century. He takes a journey through thousands of years of history, from the continent's genesis, art, literature and societies to our millennium. 

‘When those early human beings migrated out of Africa, they weren’t traveling alone, they were carrying something within them, and that something had developed slowly over millennia. It was culture’, says Gates in an interview with The New York Times. And: ‘Africa gave us the blueprint of civilization itself, showing how profound refutations of the claim that Africans lacked a history before Europeans arrived.’

A new look at the history of Africa

The award-winning filmmaker and Harvard academic Henry Louis Gates Jr travels the length and breadth of Africa to explore the continent's epic history.

In the six-part series Africa's Great Civilizations, Henry Louis Gates Jr discusses the history of the African continent, from the origins of mankind to the end of the 20th century. He takes a journey through thousands of years of history, from the continent's genesis, art, literature and societies to our millennium. 

‘When those early human beings migrated out of Africa, they weren’t traveling alone, they were carrying something within them, and that something had developed slowly over millennia. It was culture’, says Gates in an interview with The New York Times. And: ‘Africa gave us the blueprint of civilization itself, showing how profound refutations of the claim that Africans lacked a history before Europeans arrived.’

Together with online film platform Pepr, the Holland Festival presents three films related to the work of associate artist Angélique Kidjo. The career of singer Angélique Kidjo, who hails from Benin, has been about building bridges between different cultures, different musical styles and different generations. Kidjo, who is also a UNICEF ambassador, sings about the impending climate crisis and important social issues, such as racial inequality, among others.

Pepr is a new platform for films, connected to online film platform PICL. Here the focus is on stories from the African Diaspora. In collaboration with the Holland Festival, three films related to Kidjo's work will be screened here: Regard Noir, Marcher sur l'eau and Africa's Great Civilizations. Films that respectively explore the history of humanity, show the impact of climate change and question the harshness of the creative industry.

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dates

Tue May 3 12:00 AM

Prices

  • free with registration € 0

language & duration

  • English

Film available for 72 hours

Starting Tuesday 3 May, the series will be available for 72 hours for free via the film platform Pepr. Subscribe via the button 'buy tickets' and receive an e-mail with a link to the stream on Pepr on Monday afternoon 2 May.

Episode 1 Origins

In the first episode, Gates focuses on the origins of human existence and looks at the anthropological and scientific discoveries that point to Africa as the genetic home of all currently living humanity. He then traces the roots of agriculture, writing, artistic expression and iron working to their birthplaces on the African continent.

Episode 2 The Cross and the Crescent

This episode charts the emergence of Christianity and Islam and examines how the two religions reshaped Africa between the first and the twelfth centuries AD, as well as for centuries thereafter.

Gates also recounts the strategic importance of the Horn of Africa - a meeting place between the Red and Arabian seas that has served as a vital trade corridor between Africa, the Middle East and Europe for millennia.

Episode 3 Empires of Gold

‘Empires of Gold’ marks an era of great commercial and manufacturing growth throughout several of the continent's regions. Beginning with the revolutionary transformation of North and West Africa, Gates travels to the shores of the Sahara Desert, where farmers, traders, warriors and nomads have turned the region into the crossroads of some of history's most advanced and wealthiest civilisations.

Episode 4 Cities

This episode shines a light on the powerful, cosmopolitan cities that dotted Africa at the time when Europe was in its Middle Ages. From 1000 to 1600, commerce, wealth and prosperity expanded across Africa, building new cities and founding new powerful states that mark this golden age.

Episode 5 The Atlantic Age

‘The Atlantic Age’ examines the tremendous changes that took place in Africa between the 15th and 18th centuries - including the seismic transformation as West African kingdoms encountered European mariners travelling farther and farther south along Africa's Atlantic coast, and the impact of European colonisation of the New World. Across the continent, kingdoms and empires rose and fell, with some 12.5 million Africans suffering enslavement in the crossfire.

Episode 6 Clash of Civilisations

In the final part of Africa's Great Civilisations, Henry Louis Gates Jr reviews the 19th century, when a fierce competition for resources and trade stimulated ingenuity but also enticed European powers, triggering the 'scramble for Africa' and inciting conflicts that threatened the stability and wellbeing of the continent.