Watch Now: All 6 Episodes of PBS' 6-Hour Documentary Series on Africa's Great Civilizations
Photo Credit: S & A

Watch Now: All 6 Episodes of PBS' 6-Hour Documentary Series on Africa's Great Civilizations


PBS’ 6-hour documentary series “Africa’s Great Civilizations,” hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which was broadcast over 3 nights, February 27-March 1, wrapped up last night; all 6 episodes are now available online to watch for the first time, or repeat watching.

Aiming to bring to light little-known yet epic stories detailing African kingdoms and cultures, here’s an official summary of the documentary series: 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.

All 6 hour-long episodes of the documentary series are now available online in full; watch them all below, preceded by brief summaries of each.

Hour One: “Origins” – 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.

Hour Two: “The Cross and The Crescent” – Professor Gates charts the ancient rise of Christianity & Islam, whose economic & 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.

Hour Three: “Empires of Gold” – 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 epicentres.

Hour Four: “Cities” – 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.

Hour Five: “The Atlantic Age” – Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 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& early 19thcenturies, including the advent of the Sokoto Caliphate.

Hour Six: “Commerce and the Clash of Civilizations” – Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the dynamism of 19th century Africa, the “Scramble” by European powers for its riches, and the defiant and successful stand of uncolonized Ethiopia.

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.

© 2023 Shadow & Act. All rights reserved.