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Black History on Screen: Must-Watch Movies and TV Shows

Black History on Screen: Must-Watch Movies and TV Shows

At Our Ancestories, we love and celebrate all things African and Black history, culture, and heritage. From wonderful children's books on African history and culture, festivals of different tribes and people across Africa, ancient African kingdoms, and much more! We enjoy rediscovering African history. 

Last week, we explored¬†African comic books¬†tailored for our young readers, shedding light on the colourful world of superheroes and adventures that entertain. Today, we've chosen a different path. Rather than turning the pages of books, we're shifting our focus to another captivating medium‚ÄĒtelevision shows and movies.¬†

So, if you're looking for a fresh, exciting way to delve into Black history and culture, you're in for a treat. In this blog post, we're thrilled to present our curated list of must-watch TV shows and movies that transport you to the heart of black stories. 

1. African Queens (2023) - Dive into the captivating world of African history's remarkable female monarchs with this docudrama series on Netflix. Through meticulous research and dramatic reenactments, "African Queens" brings to life the stories of powerful queens who shaped the course of their nations. Each season focuses on a different queen. The first season is about the legendary Queen Njinga of Angola, while season two is about the incredible Queen Cleopatra. 

Watch the African Queens trailer here.

2. Hotel Rwanda (2004) - "Hotel Rwanda" is a gripping drama based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who saved over a thousand refugees during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The film provides a harrowing look at the tragedy while highlighting one man's extraordinary courage and humanity in the face of unimaginable horrors. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of compassion and resilience in times of crisis.

Watch the Hotel Rwanda trailer here.

3. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) - This biographical film chronicles the life of Nelson Mandela, the iconic leader who played a pivotal role in ending apartheid in South Africa. The movie takes viewers on Mandela's journey from his early years to his incarceration and eventual presidency. Through powerful performances and a compelling narrative, it portrays the struggle for justice and equality in South Africa, making it an essential watch for history buffs.

Watch the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom trailer here.

4. Roots (2016) - Based on Alex Haley's novel, "Roots" is a miniseries that traces the African slave trade and its enduring impact on generations. This epic saga follows the journey of Kunta Kinte, a young African man captured and enslaved in the United States. With a powerful narrative and a cast of memorable characters, "Roots" sheds light on the resilience and strength of African heritage in the face of adversity.

Watch the Roots trailer here.

5. Sarafina! (1992) - Set against the backdrop of the South African apartheid era, "Sarafina!" is a powerful musical drama that tells the story of a young girl's perspective on the social and political turmoil of the time. The film weaves together vibrant music, dance, and storytelling to convey the struggle for justice and freedom in South Africa. It serves as both a historical tribute and a celebration of resilience through art.

Watch the Sarafina! trailer here.

6. The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013) - Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., this documentary series offers a comprehensive exploration of the history of African Americans. From the early days of slavery to the civil rights movement and beyond, the series delves into the challenges, achievements, and contributions of African Americans throughout American history. With in-depth research and personal narratives, "Many Rivers to Cross" provides a profound understanding of the African-American experience.

Watch The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross trailer here.

7. Timbuktu (2014) - "Timbuktu" is a thought-provoking drama film that explores the impact of radical Islamism on a Malian family and their community in the ancient city of Timbuktu. Through its powerful storytelling and nuanced characters, the film portrays the complexities of life under extremist rule while highlighting the enduring spirit of the local population.

Watch the Timbuktu trailer here.

8. Tales by Moonlight (2005-2010) - A beloved Nigerian children's television series, "Tales by Moonlight" combines storytelling with cultural lessons. Each episode features folktales, legends, and myths from across Africa, making it an engaging and educational watch for kids. Through captivating narratives, the show introduces young viewers to the rich tapestry of African traditions and stories.

Watch a snippet of Tales by Moonlight here.

9. Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) - Set against the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil War (Biafran War), "Half of a Yellow Sun" is a compelling film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel. The movie explores the lives of twin sisters and their experiences during the conflict, providing a poignant portrayal of the era's challenges, hopes, and tragedies.

Watch the Half of a Yellow Sun trailer here.

10. Shaka Zulu (1986) - "Shaka Zulu" is a historical drama series that showcases the life of Shaka, the Zulu king known for his military prowess and the transformation of his kingdom. With epic battles and intricate character development, the series offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of one of Africa's most renowned leaders.

As we wrap up, we would love to hear from you! Have you watched any captivating TV shows or movies that shed light on African/Black history and culture? Perhaps there are many hidden gems we missed or a personal favourite you'd like to share. Please, don't hesitate to drop your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. 

Idia of the Benin Kingdom


Imhotep of Ancient Kemet


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba


Sunjata of the Mande Empire


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