Movies about Africa

Apr 7th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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Movies about Africa

There's a great thread running now on the Europe forum about the best movies set in your favorite city in Europe. Because I will be taking my wife and two boys to South Africa for the first time this summer, and although I know this has been asked in one form or another before, I would still like to get some fresh ideas.

So, what movies can you recommend for wetting my family's appetite for Southern Africa, and in particular for Capetown and safari in South Africa? For that matter, if you have some thoughts about great books for teenage boys I'd welcome those too.
Steveboy is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 09:12 AM
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This is a great question, and I hope someone comes up with interesting suggestions. I'd love to see them too!

I guess the classic book would be Alan Paton's "Cry the Beloved Country". Oprah's book club just read this last winter, so there may still be book club notes on her website.

And a favorite of mine, about wildlife and conservation is "Cry of the Kalahari"--it is about Botswana, but a totally engaging story about a husband/wife team who go to Botswana to do research on wildlife. This is the book that made me fixed on going to southern Africa....

I find much of the literature by South Africans very dark...and not necessarily appropriate for kids. (I'm thinking of J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer for example.)

People have recommended Kaffir Boy but I haven't read has been compared to Manchild in the Promised Land and is about growing up in a black township under apartheid...perhaps you should check to see if it is age-appropriate for your boys? Completely different--it's an animal story-- is Jock of the Bushveld. Might be fun for younger kids. And heavier, but relevant, might be Nelson Mandela's autobiography?

Other stuff I can think of is about East Africa-- "Nowhere in Africa" is a recent film about a German Jewish family who move to Kenya to escape the is told from the point of view of their young daughter. Very beautiful...and still relevant to the "living in the bush in Africa" theme. (available on video). Flame Trees of Thika is a beautiful little book-- again told by a young girl, about her family moving out to the bush in Kenya in the 1930s.
And lightweight, but fun and culturally interesting for everyone might be the "Number One Ladies Detective Agency" series by Alexander McCall. Mysteries...set in modern Botswana, solved by Mma Ramotse, the only "lady detective" in Botswana.

Would love to see everyone's suggestions here!

tashak is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 11:16 AM
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I would add "My Pride and Joy," by George Adamson, "Jambo Mama," by Melissa Atwood, "Dangerous Beauty" by Mark Ross, "Facing the Lion," by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, "Dancing with the Witchdoctor" by Kelly James and "The Worlds of a Masai Warrior," by Tepilit Ole Saitoti - to name a few.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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As far as movies: ?Out of Africa?,
?Born Free?, ?Living Free?,
?To Walk with Lions?,
?Nowhere in Africa? (German with English subtitles),
?The Ghost and The Darkness?,
?The Lion King? (for children),
?Jock ? A True Tale of Friendship? (for children).

SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 11:20 AM
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Oops - those are supposed to be quotation marks or hyphens instead of question marks all over the place. Well, that ought to teach me to cut and paste!
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 8th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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Tashak correctly characterizes much SA literature as dark. Apartheid had an immeasurable effect on the country's literature, because it's impossible to write about the country without somehow dealing with apartheid, whether centrally or peripherally. Still, Nadine Gordimer captures the feel of the country wonderfully, especially her earlier books. I find that in her later works, the political overshadows the literary.

Two books that I've read recently that I found delightful are "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" - the autobiography of a girl who grew up in (then) Rhodesia. She describes her life so colorfully and honestly. Her name is Alexandra Fuller.

The second one is "Empire Settings" by David Schmahmann. It's a novel about an expatriate South African living in the US who has to go back to Durban to take care of some family business. His memories form the story of the novel. It captures the feeling of irreplaceable loss that comes with the decision to leave your homeland, even when it's the only right thing to do. I cried as I read it, and loved every minute of it.

A movie that is pretty good historically is "Zulu Dawn", but depending on the age of your boys it may not be appropriate.
Another Zulu war movie is "Zulu". I've heard of, but not seen, a Disney movie about a student-exchange South African girl who comes to live with an American family -- they are blacks, expecting a black girl, but she turns out to be white. The name might be something like "The Color of Friendship".

I really really liked "The Ghost and the Darkness", but then I've had a crush on Michael Douglas for a long time!

I think there was a thread on this topic in this file once before, maybe it's still "findable".
Celia is offline  
Apr 8th, 2004, 07:48 AM
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I just noticed that you said your boys are teenagers, Steveboy. In that case, I think they'd love Zulu Dawn.
Celia is offline  
Apr 8th, 2004, 03:03 PM
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Another movie "White Heat" with Charles Dance - about when the British were in Kenya. Somewhat "hot" and "hot" (not for the little ones) but interesting. Also, not easily found in video stores, so check Amazon or others.
Apr 9th, 2004, 01:09 AM
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brilliant post and super replies. I just finished a very good book by Peter Godwin - Mukuwa
a while boy growing up in Rhodesia. Peter Godwin now lives in New York and works as a journalist.
The no1 South African comedian is Leon Schuster, not sure if you can get the videos in the US or wherever you live. But you have to try - very funny. One of the best is "there is a Zulu on my Stoep" (stoep in south African is verandah) "Panic Mechanic",
Have fun!
Karin01 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2004, 05:01 AM
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Books for adults would be an easier question - there are so many excellent reads. Have never been the mother of teenage boys, but if they are interested in wildlife and other cultures then perhaps 'The Tree where man was born' by Peter Matthieson. It is set in Tanzania, though.

Wilbur Smith is more of a pot-boiler writer but he is good on adventure and elephants. Maybe someone else can advise on whether his books are appropriate for teenage boys.
alice13 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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I came across this book for our 10 year old son. It is titled "Safari Journal" by Hudson Talbott. Great read for a 8-14 year old child. Our son really enjoyed this book - a good preview to our upcoming safari. It is writen from a 12 year New York boys's perspective as he travels on safari in Kenya with his aunt. Here is a web site with more info:


JazzDrew is offline  

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