TCA: PBS and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Team Up for *Epic* 6-Hour Documentary Series on Africa's Great Civilizations (Trailer)
Photo Credit: PBS

TCA: PBS and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Team Up for *Epic* 6-Hour Documentary Series on Africa's Great Civilizations (Trailer)


During its portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter tour today, PBS unveiled a strong 2017 winter/spring season lineup that includes a 3-part/6-hour documentary that will be of interest to readers of this blog, especially those who have been calling for on-screen stories that tell of an African continent prior to colonization, and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade; of the several African kingdoms that ruled the pre-colonial continent, before the so-called “Scramble for Africa” in the late 1800s. And not only those ancient BC empires of Egypt. Between the 1400s and the 1800s there were a number of kingdoms/empires/dynasties that ruled all over Africa – like the Saadi dynasty in Morocco, to the Sultanate of Sennar in Sudan, and the Ethiopian dynasties in the east, to the Oyo, Benin and Ashanti empires all in West Africa, the Mutapa empire and Zulu kingdom in the south, and so on. Each of them with their own different clans or lineages, operating under different sets of regulations – whether despotic, or more democratic, ruled by a single king with omnipotent power, or regulated by a collective of elder statesmen – and almost everything else between, with multi-national parts, varied populations and polities. Many of these empires/kingdoms/dynasties existed simultaneously – as contemporaries – but in different parts of the continent.

PBS and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. have teamed up for a 3-part/6-hour documentary series titled “Africa’s Great Civilizations” which premieres on February 27, promising to bring “little-known yet epic stories to life, detailing African kingdoms and cultures,” says the press release.

As of today’s announcement, we can’t say just how comprehensive the series will be, but here’s hoping that much will be covered during its 6-hour running time; there’s certainly much history to be uncovered. Here’s an official summary: “Henry Louis Gates, Jr. provides a new look from an African perspective at African history, traversing the dawn of mankind to the dawn of the 20th century. The series is a breathtaking and personal journey through history that includes evidence of the earliest human culture and art, arguably the world’s greatest ever civilizations and kingdoms, and some of the world’s earliest writing. Gates travels throughout the vast continent of Africa to discover the true majesty of its greatest civilizations and kingdoms.”

The series will air over 3 nights, Monday-Wednesday, February 27-March 1, from 9-11 p.m. ET each airing.

We should know more about it as we get closer to its premiere, and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to interview Gates about the series before it airs.

Watch a trailer for the upcoming 3-part/6-hour “Africa’s Great Civilizations” series below:

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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