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Africa Area Studies

Titles Available as of July 2022

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.

For African feature films see the African Feature Film Guide.



Africa is the cradle of humanity, and a land born from violent, cataclysmic events. Today, geological evidence is being discovered of events which shaped the Africa we know today and which will, in the future, change it once more. A BBC/Science Channel co-production. 

Africa: Continent That Overslept

Why is Africa lagging farther and farther behind the rest of the world economically? Despite a wealth of natural resources, Africa still suffers from poverty, disease, corruption, tribal warfare and exploitative dictatorships. The award-winning investigative team of Heilbuth and Bulow (Battle of the Titans) produced this thoroughly researched program with a bold disregard for political correctness. They met with a new generation of African businessmen and intellectuals who addressed the appalling lack of progress. These Africans are outraged at the widening gap between the rich heads of state and poor subjects; the lack of a work ethic among African workers; and the fact that famine still claims so many lives when Africa could easily feed itself. The film shows that Africa is a rich area: it has 70% of the world's cobalt reserves; 46 % of its diamonds; 44% of its chrome; and great hydroelectric power potential. Contrary to popular belief, Africa is not densely populated. The young, educated Africans feel that colonialism and the rich countries of the world can no longer be blamed for all the ills of Africa. As one African journalist says, 'It is unfortunate and shameful to see Africa with all her potential, always turning to the West and saying 'Give us this, give us that.'' A young Kenyan businessman says he is embarrassed by an economy built on aid. Yet, he believes that a change is taking place across Africa and 'we have to take our place amongst the nations.' 

Africa: Living with Corruption 

In this eye-opening film, the award-winning African journalist Sorious Samura reveals how corruption has become normal and accepted in Africa -- it is one of the root causes of Africa's many problems. Sadly, most aid money given by the West never reaches those it is meant to help; it gets siphoned off by corrupt governments. This film provides a sober portrait of how modern Africa really works.

African Multicultural History: African Contributions to US History

This video, hosted by David House, is about African-American contributions to American History 

AIDS in Africa

his compelling documentary reports on the AIDS crisis throughout Africa. The disease is especially rampant in Central Africa. Unlike Europe and the United States, where 90% of AIDS victims are homosexuals, drug abusers and hemophiliacs, in Africa the disease cuts across the entire population, affecting men and women of reproductive age and their children. The health crisis is striking a continent already wracked by underdevelopment, civil strife and corruption. There are therefore huge economic and cultural obstacles to prevention efforts. In its investigation, the film takes viewers to remote and previously off-limits locations in Uganda, Zaire, the Ivory Coast, Burundi, Rwanda, South Africa and several other countries. It is obvious that the crisis in Africa has global ramifications. If the disease is to be checked, it must be by dealing with the poverty, sexual mores and illiteracy that underly its spread. For example, if the most effective means to prevent infection is through the use of condoms, the poor in Africa simply have no access to them. The film gives voice to the Africans themselves who, with courage and dignity, face an uncertain future. 

Bitter Melons

Portrays the difficulty of survival in the central Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. A native musician, a member of a Bushman group called the G/wi, performs songs about animals, the land, and daily life. Describes the G/wi, traditional music, dances, children's games, and hunting, planting, and food preparation.

Born into Struggle

Filmmaker Rehad Desai takes us on an intimate journey mapped out by the scars etched into his family's life from having a father who was intensely involved in politics.

Breaking the Wall of Food Insecurity: How Agricultural Science Minimizes Nematode Damage in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nematodes, or roundworms, are highly adaptable multicellular survivors of many diverse ecologies. From an agricultural perspective, nematodes are often detrimental: they are pests that attack plants and spread viruses, causing a global crop yield loss of $125 billion annually. This 2009 Falling Walls lecture video features the research of Waceke Wanjohi, who has taught nematology for 20 years, developing academic programs and labs while publishing internationally. Wanjohi also leads projects like the Nematology Initiative of East and Southern Africa (NIESA), an organization that effectively improves crop yields in smallholder farming systems in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbambwe through the use of environmentally friendly strategies for worm control. Wanjohi will present the benefits of her approach, which allows for less pesticide use and misuse, reduces food risks and environmental damages, and increases food harvest and security. 

A Caterpillar Moon

In the rainforest of Central Africa live the Aka pygmies, a tribe of traditional hunter-gatherers virtually untouched by the modern world. They are an engaging tribe where there are no rules, everyone is equal and everything is shared - including their meagre feast of caterpillars with the film crew.

A Common Purpose

Twenty-five people are convicted of the murder of one man, fourteen are sentenced to hang, one lawyer is assassinated and the other goes into exile. A Common Purpose is the dramatic story behind a notorious murder trial that marks South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy. Told through the perspectives of defence lawyer, Andrea Durbach, Independent journalist John Carlin and the accused, the story unfolds to reveal one of legal history's biggest cases on the death penalty. A Common Purpose tells a timeless and inspirational story about a struggle for justice in a country where injustice was entrenched in the law. 

The Cutting Tradition: Female Circumcision in Africa Today

Documentary that focuses on female genital mutilation still practiced in many African and some Middle-Eastern countries. While it is illegal in some countries and poses medical and psychological problems for many women, the practice is rooted in religious, cultural and historical traditions. The film presents a balanced and non-judgmental view of the issue. 

Dying for Gold

South Africa's largest gold mining companies have been accused of knowingly exposing miners to harmful dust causing the terminal disease, silicosis and makes them more susceptible to TB. The class action has been settled out of court--which means the real cost of gold will not be known. This film exposes the century of deplorable practices by gold mines to ensure that miners and their families are justly compensated. 

Dying to be Free: Zimbabwe's Struggle for Change

A portrait of the politics and history of Zimbabwe, this program traces Robert Mugabe's rise to power and depicts his 22-year dictatorship in a country where millions rely on food aid to survive, inflation is at 500 percent, and almost three quarters of the country's workforce is unemployed. Also included is rare footage that captures the demand for change and the popular support for the new opposition party, MDC, during the presidential election in 2002.  

Everything Must Fall

When South African universities raised their fees in 2015 there were peaceful protests on the part of the students at University of the Witwatersrand. During these protests the university called in the police force. The film shows how the conflict escalated and showed division among the university staff as well as exposing power relationships and inequality among the genders and races. 

The Himbas Are Shooting

In Namibia, a group of Himbas men and women of all ages have decided to make a film showing who they are and what their life is like: incorporating key moments in their history, daily life, ceremonies and ancestral ties, the attractions and dangers of modernity, forced and chosen changes, et cetera For the Himbas, a people of oral tradition, making a film about themselves will be a first. It will also share the adventure of men and women who are both anchored in tradition and turned towards the future, and who discover the pleasure of telling their story, acting and inventing with means that, until now, have only ever offered a superficial image of themselves. 

Ladies First: Rwandan Women Help Heal Their Nation

After genocide ripped their nation apart in the 1990s, the women of Rwanda have led the healing process and have helped usher in a much-needed era of stability. By depicting the multifaceted efforts of women activists to build a sustainable peace between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, this Wide Angle documentary explores the challenges facing Rwanda. The film features an in-depth examination of the remarkable role Rwandan women play in politics and the business sector and shows how one portion of a citizenry, no matter how under-recognized and under-appreciated, can help guide a nation and provide a courageous example to the wider world. Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, discusses Rwanda's women with Mishal Husain. 

A Land of Immense Riches - Mozambique 

Once devastated by war, Mozambique now offers positive models for bio-diversity, community conservation and eco-tourism. We meet members of the local community who are working with the conservation authorities to educate people about sustainable harvesting and many other ways of protecting the environment. 

Last Grave of Dimbaza

Shot illegally in the Republic of South Africa, this documentary exposes the oppression of Blacks and other people designated as colored under apartheid rule in South Africa. 

Leaving Africa: A Story About Friendship and Empowerment

Finnish doctor Riitta has been working in Uganda for more than 25 years. Together with her Ugandan friend Catherine, she brings sex education to Ugandan villages, challenging priests, imams, women and their husbands to discussions on women's rights to their bodies, sexuality and life. In ultra-conservative Uganda, this soon leads to serious complications, jeopardizing their entire life's work. This is a film about the quest for gender equality in Africa and the world's greatest challenge--mitigating the population explosion. 

Mama Goema

Goema is a unique musical genre, born of ancient & modern, of African, European & Asian musical styles in Cape Town, where African Khoi-San & Xhosa traditions, Indonesian Malay culture and European influences are mixed together. In this documentary, Mac MacKenzie, a respected Goema veteran, guides us in his work & the making of his 'Goema Symphony No. 1'.

Masai in the Modern World

This film looks at the impact of the modern world on the ancient culture of the Masai people. Traditionally the Masai herded their cattle between the plains and the well -watered mountain land. As tourism makes inroads on their already scarce land, they are trying to adapt without losing their heritage. 

Naked Spaces - A Portrait of Rural West Africa

Shot with stunning elegance and clarity, NAKED SPACES explores the rhythm and ritual of life in the rural environments of six West African countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Togo, Benin and Senegal). The nonlinear structure of NAKED SPACES challenges the traditions of ethnographic filmmaking, while sensuous sights and sounds lead the viewer on a poetic journey to the most inaccessible parts of the African continent: the private interaction of people in their living spaces.

Nature of Things: The AIDS Crisis in Africa

The AIDS crisis in Africa is an epidemic of staggering proportions. Thirty-six million people are infected with the HIV virus worldwide, with over 25 million of them in Africa, and a staggering number of Africans - 17 million - have died. This film is about the inspiring work of Canadian Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa as he searches for solutions to the pandemic ravaging the continent.

The Nile

The Nile is the world’s longest river. From elephants and leopards to extreme kayakers and ancient wonders, its great length provides a lifeline for Africa’s wildest beasts and for some of the world’s most incredible cultures. 

Paying the Price

In a hospital in Uganda, 14-year-old Vincent is being treated for cryptococcal meningitis, contracted as a result of AIDS. Underweight, frightened and wracked with pain, he is one of literally millions of AIDS orphans across Africa who will die in the next ten years unless life-saving antiretroviral drugs become more widely available. But at current prices, the drugs are just too expensive for most African countries. The fight for affordable drugs in Africa first made world headlines last year when a consortium of forty-two major pharmaceutical companies took the South African government to court over its right to import or manufacture generic drugs to treat AIDS sufferers. 

Place Without People: Tanzania

A Place Without People: Tanzania tells the story of the eviction of the indigenous people from their lands in Tanzania, to make way for the creation of the world's most famous nature reserves. In Tanzania, one of the poorest nations in the world, the government, the tourist industry and conservation organizations have advanced the idea that Africans are intruders into what was once a pristine Garden of Eden. The film describes how before World War II the land of the Maasai was seized by British colonialists to set aside for their own sport -- hunting. But as game grew scarce, the British realized they should preserve it and the Serengeti was turned into a vast national park in the 1950's and '60's. This land, possibly the longest-inhabited place on earth, was labelled a 'primordial wilderness' and although there was no evidence that local people threatened wildlife, it was decided that 'no men, not even native ones, should live inside its borders.' The film explores how Western perceptions about nature have evolved through time and how these perceptions radically altered both the East African landscape and society. From the famous wildlife reserves of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro to the remote mountains of Mahale, the documentary gives voice to the indigenous people who 'shouldn't be there,' who continue to be antagonized and excluded, while the tourist industry is rapidly depleting the area's natural resources, such as water.

The Poets

THE POETS accompanies CheneyCoker and Osundare over three weeks, as they return to the landscapes and places that formed their early influences, shaping their writing for decades to come. Whether speaking to admiring high school students, standing in a traditional Nigerian market and comparing it to the alienating experience of shopping in America, or talking politics and censorship in a cab, Osundare and Cheney-Coker are fascinating companions. 

Prison for Profit

South Africa's Mangaung Prison was supposed to be a model facility. The first privately run prison in the country would be a place where the most hardened inmates could be rehabilitated through humane treatment and given access to programming and educational opportunities. Instead, run by global security giant G4S, Maungaung prison has been the focus of repeated complaints of violence, torture, abuse, and neglect. This film follows investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins as she uncovers the truth about Mangaung. 

Roots of African Culture

Historical revisionism and propaganda were important elements of apartheid ideology, proclaiming that black peoples were not the owners of Southern Africa by stating that the whites arrived in the same areas at nearly the same time. Today a crucial objective of South African education is to erase this interpretation as presented in earlier textbooks, and to give their students a genuine history of their country. 

Sex in Africa: Perspectives on Sex-Related Concerns in Ethiopia, Mali, and South Africa

In Africa, views on sex vary widely from conservative to liberal and from traditional to progressive. Topics covered in this program include gay rights, protected under the law only in post-apartheid South Africa; the practices of female genital excision and "dry sexual intercourse"-each described in detail-as they relate to severe female health issues and the violation of a woman's right to her own body; the practice of "dry sex" as it relates to the spread of HIV; and female prostitution as a means of subsistence-and, if a prostitute is fortunate enough to hook up with a wealthy foreigner, a chance for her and her family to escape poverty.


Boniface "Softie" Mwangi has long fought injustices in his country as a political activist. Now he's taking the next step by running for office in a regional Kenyan election. From the moment Boniface decides to run, he responds to each challenge with optimism. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents becomes increasingly harder to combat with idealism alone. And Boniface soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk. Should country really come before family, as he's always believed? 

Song of the Soul: Stories of Hospice in South Africa

This film follows a group of American hospice volunteers in South Africa, as they visit local hospice facilities, day care programs, support groups, and a school, as well as accompany nurses on home visits with patients and family members. Includes commentary from both the visiting Americans and from the local South African hospice workers on this community-based model of care. 

South Film: Spirit. Culture. Life

A beautifully shot short film looking into creativity in South Africa, showcasing the very best, from fashion icons to entertainers, street culture and poetry. The film exposes what drives South African creativity, and how our rich and vivid history has influenced what we are creating today. 

Sudan's Pyramids

Well-preserved yet almost unknown to the outside world, Sudan's ancient pyramids point to a proud past of kings and kingdoms that existed in the heart of Africa. 

Tableau Feraille

Tells the story of an idealistic young politician's rise and fall. Daam, a well-intentioned but vacillating European-trained politician, must choose between two social paradigms exemplified by his two wives. The film offers a view of how modernization, as practiced in today's Africa, corrodes traditional communities and retards grassroots development.

Witchcraft Among the Azande

To the Azande of Africa, there is no such thing as bad luck. All misfortune results from witchcraft. The tribe depends on oracles to explain events and predict the future. Here is a Christian tribe where the priest must share his influence with the witchdoctor.

World of Witchcraft

Belief in the power of witchcraft is pervasive and profoundly entrenched in many parts of Africa. In the Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries in the world, these matters are taken an extraordinary step further. Thousands of men, women and children are arrested and tried for committing the crime of witchcraft every year. Witchcraft is an enshrined element of their legal system --- formally treated as a crime. The award-winning African journalist Sorious Samura investigates a nation that appears gripped by fear, where persecution for witchcraft is reminiscent of Medieval Europe.

Zanzibar Soccer Queens

In the Muslim country, Zanzibar, women's activities are severely curtailed. This is a portrait of a feisty group of women who have defied the cultural constraints by playing a man's game, soccer, giving reign to their competitive spirit, and defining new roles and identities for themselves in a predominantly Muslim society. Clerical disapproval has meant that there is a lack of women's teams with which to compete so the women must sometimes play against men's teams.   


Black Girl 

A Senegalese woman is eager to find a better life abroad. She takes a job as a governess for a French family, but finds her duties reduced to those of a maid after the family moves from Dakar to the south of France. In her new country, the woman is constantly made aware of her race and mistreated by her employers. Her hope for better times turns to disillusionment and she falls into isolation and despair. The harsh treatment leads her to consider suicide the only way out.  

Call Me Kuchu

In an unmarked office in Uganda, David Kato, the country's first openly gay man, labors to repeal his nation's homophobic laws and liberate his fellow 'kuchus.' But this is a formidable task: a new anti-homosexuality bill has emerged that proposes death for HIV-positive gay men, and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual. This film follows a year in David Kato's life as he battles homophobia and legal discrimination in Uganda, fighting tirelessly to save his fellow kuchus from oppression. One year into filming and just three weeks after a landmark legal victory, the unthinkable happens: David is brutally murdered in his home. His death sends shock waves around the world, and leaves Kampala's kuchus traumatized, seeking answers and guidance.

Dakan Les Films du 20éme et La Sept Cinéma ; un film écrit et réalisé par Mohamed Camara

This first feature film on male homosexuality from sub-Saharan Africa is a contemporary African reinterpretation of the age-old Romeo and Juliet conflict between love and social convention. When Sori and Manga tell their parents they are in love, they respond that, "It's impossible; since time began, it's never happened. Boys don't do that." 

Faat Kine

This feature film from Ousmane Sembene, known as the father of African cinema, examines the interplay of gender, economics, and power through the fictional life story of Senegalese businesswoman Faat Kine. The deceptively light domestic drama explores themes of traditional family roles, patriarchal personal and political relationships, and economic self-reliance in the country's post-independence era. French and Wolof with English subtitles. 

Half of a Yellow Sun

Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Upon returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the “revolutionary professor” Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests and surprises even herself when she falls in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life seem to loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire world. A sweeping romantic drama, Half of a Yellow Sun takes the sisters and their lovers on a journey through the war which is powerful and intensely emotional. As the response of viewers around the world has shown, it is a story which can touch everyone’s heart. 

The Night of Truth

Directed by Fanta Régina Nacro. Mirroring the political strife and genocide in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa, this film opens as preparations are being made to end a decade of civil war in a fictitious country. A peace agreement is about to be signed and celebrated in a night of reconciliation with a laying down of arms. As the powerful drumming begins, both rebels and government forces gather, bringing with them years of rage, grief, hope, suspicion, and bitterness. In this first feature film, Fanta Régina Nacro boldly presents the sometimes unintentional but inhuman behavior inherent in all people. 

Pastor Paul

Pastor Paul is a feature film about a white tourist in West Africa who is possessed by a ghost after acting in a Nollywood movie. Pastor Paul explores the remarkable confluence of New African Cinema, Christianity, and Witchcraft and undermines the classic symbolic imagery of the "white man in Africa," whether he be tourist, missionary, actor, or ghost. The first American Nollywood film. 

Petit a Petit

An innovative semi-improvised feature film about young men from Niger exploring life in Paris and learning to appreciate traditional values back home. Like Jaguar, and starring the three main actors from that film, Petit à Petit is an exercise in what Rouch called ethno-fiction, an idiosyncratic blend of fiction and observational documentary. 

Tasuma, the Fighter

A comedy set in contemporary Burkina Faso, Tasuma tells the story of a World War II veteran, who has been trying for more than 50 years to obtain his well-deserved military pension. Convinced that he will be paid shortly, Sogo buys a mill on credit for the village. When Sogo is put in prison because he cannot pay back his loan, the women of the village rally to set him free.

Zulu Love Letter

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission could not heal all the wounds left behind by the apartheid era. Thandeka, a journalist, is still traumatized by the murder of a schoolgirl, which she witnessed years before. She can find no peace until tracking down the perpetrators and finding the body of the schoolgirl so it can have a decent memorial.