PBS Distribution announced today it is releasing “Africa’s Great Civilizations” on DVD and Blu-ray, the latest three-part, six-hour documentary series hosted, executive produced and written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The entire program will be available on DVD and Blu-ray May 16, 2017 on 2 discs. It will also be available for digital download.
In the new documentary, 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.
Included are 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 of the University of Chicago, along with many more.
The series also examines the ancient African kingdoms’ increasingly complex relationships with the political economies of Europe and the burgeoning trans-Atlantic slave trade, and how these interactions began to change the internal dynamics of the continent. Finally, the series draws to a close at the end of the 19th century, when the infamous “Scramble for Africa” witnesses the industrial nations of Europe fighting for control of the vast riches of Africa’s natural resources, and when on the Plains of Adwa, Ethiopia makes a heroic stand against an invading colonial power.
“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.”
“Africa’s Great Civilizations” is a production of Inkwell Films, McGee Media, Kunhardt Films and WETA Washington, DC, in association with Nutopia.