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date: 20 March 2019

Film, Radio, and Society in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa

Summary and Keywords

From the period of the “Scramble for Africa” in the 1880s to the era of decolonization that began in the 1950s, culture and media played essential roles in constructing images of the colonized subject as well as governing newly conquered empires. In the struggle for political independence, Africans used film, music, literature, journals, and newspapers to counter European ideas about African society as well as to provide the foundations for postcolonial national identities. With sovereignty largely realized across Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, the roles of culture and media were critical in forging the bonds of nationhood and solidifying the legitimacy of the new states. However, those official efforts increasingly clashed with the aspirations of cultural activists, who desired a more thorough transformation of their societies in order to transcend the colonial legacy and construct progressive communities. Media and culture became a forum for political conflict whereby governments increasingly restricted creativity and subsequently sought complete control of the means of cultural creation and diffusion. Both the aspirations of public officials and opposition activists suffered during a period of prolonged economic crisis in Africa, which began in the 1970s and stretched into the 1990s. The sinews of governance as well as the radical pretensions of culture workers were torn asunder as many parts of Africa suffered state collapse, civil war, famine, and epidemic diseases (including the HIV/AIDS and Ebola crises). The dawn of the new millennium coincided with the age of neoliberal globalization that, for many African countries, was synonymous with structural adjustment programs and oversight from such international lending institutions as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. This often required the privatization of media across Africa and included the greater prominence of non-African media sources on radio, television, and the cinema throughout the continent. It also was reflected in a shift among African culture workers, who frequently centered on the impact of globalization on African societies in their work. Filmmakers, musicians, and writers often use their platforms to speak to the wider world beyond Africa about the place of African societies in the globalized world.

Keywords: culture, media, television, cinema, postcolonial, imperialism, colonialism, globalization

Cultural Politics of Colonialism, 1880s–1920s

From the period of the European scramble for empire in Africa in the 1880s, culture and media have been integral components of African societies’ experience of colonialism and their postcolonial development. New technologies of photography and cinema as well as the growth of newspaper readership in Europe created mechanisms for constructing images of Africa and its peoples, which served to legitimate and explain the imperial conquest of the continent and the subjugation of its peoples. Those same mechanisms were deployed by colonial rulers in Africa to extract consent for colonial rule and to discipline the population according to European prescriptions of what was “proper” for African societies. Such images even made their way into European advertisements that simultaneously promoted the consumption of specific products and wars of imperial conquest that would contribute to the ostensible “civilization” of the African, including advertising for typewriters, soap, clothing, and a variety of consumer goods. Those images reflected the link between the economic impetus for imperial conquest as well as the presumed benefits that would accrue to the African populations once they were brought under European control. Consequently, cultural politics and the use of media to articulate and transmit images, which underpinned the imperial venture, were embedded in the very process of the violent conquest of the continent that reached a fevered pace from the 1880s into the early 20th century.

From the start, France pushed the cultural dimension to its invading presence in Africa, often framing what such politicians as Jules Ferry (premier 1880–1881, 1883–1885) called a “civilizing mission.” For French imperialists, the stated objectives in conquering Africa (and other parts of the world) were to impart French civilization and to transform African villages and hamlets into replicas of French cities, as General Joseph Simon Gallieni articulated in the wake of his conquest of Madagascar in the 1890s. Often described as a policy of “assimilation,” France’s colonial policies were framed by a desire to integrate the empire with the metropole through building cultural affinity of the colonized for the conquering society. This would augment France’s population disparity with imperial rivals like Germany while also distinguishing French colonialism from that of the British, who were presented as ruling according to racial difference and merely exploiting their overseas territories. In addition, French imperialism, which promoted French language and culture, was presented as a mechanism to demand loyalty and submission on the part of the African population, thus facilitating administrative control and mitigating potential sources of disturbance. For future indigenous administrative involvement, French officials recruited the children of local rulers to attend colonial schools, whereby the children were familiarized with the French language, the basics of France’s history, and some of the objectives of the colonial project, in addition to being taught essential skills as accounting, veterinary science, bookkeeping, and some familiarity with law.

The United Kingdom, too, promoted a cultural politics of empire with regard to its African colonies. However, the United Kingdom’s colonial officials emphasized the differences among the diverse groups they ruled as well as the overarching gap between the British and those they governed. This divide and rule technique dated to England’s conquest of India in the 19th century and was imported to Africa via the work of Lord Frederick Lugard, British administrator of Nigeria in the early 20th century. While British officials recruited some local rulers who were trained in colonial schools, the United Kingdom preferred to provide support for local forms of education geared toward the preservation of the indigenous elite. In this manner, the British could claim to be protecting local cultures while also reforming African societies in a way that would impart the essential elements of European civilization without disrupting the social structure upon which the British administrative structure was constructed. The British also relied more explicitly on the work of missionaries than did the French, who had a more complicated and often contradictory relationship with religious groups (especially after the 1905 law separating church and state).1

The invention of motion pictures in the 1890s also impacted the colonial experience, although imperial officials did not make much use of the technology in its earliest days. Rather, Africa served as a backdrop for shooting early films as well as furnishing prevailing tropes of the primitive projected on movie screens in Europe and North America. Cinema continued to play a role after the conquest that advertising had performed in the period during the subjugation of Africa. It provided legitimacy for the imperial project and claimed the presence of non-existent consent for maintaining European domination of Africa into the 20th century. Early films presented Africans as either a danger to themselves or a threat to the wider world. In the first instance, it was imperative for Europeans to colonize Africa and civilize the natives. In the second case the role of colonialism was to contain the threat harbored in African societies from escaping the continent and afflicting the outside world. Both media presentations validated the strategies of cultural assimilation (in the first example) and divide and rule (in the second).2 Foreign missionaries were among the first to use cinema for explicitly imperial aims in Africa. Some Christian evangelists made short instructional films that enacted scenes from the Bible or were used to teach locals about proper hygiene, family structures, or dietary practices. Those initial efforts would later be appropriated by some colonial officials to promote the administrative aims of the imperial government.3

The early period of European rule in Africa introduced some novel forms of media to the continent while also deploying them in the political project of building and sustaining support for imperialism in Europe. The images constructed about Africans and disseminated to Europeans and other Africans alike participated in the administrative process of transforming African societies in ways that were designed to foster obedience to the foreign power. Such media tools as photography, print journalism, and cinema were integrated into the cultural politics of the foreign empire and served as transmission mechanisms to bind African societies to a specific empire while also molding them into acceptable and manageable forms.

Manufacturing Difference through Colonial Education, 1920s–1930s

Following the First World War (1914–1918), colonial officials throughout Africa engaged in a thorough rethinking of pre-war administrative practices, including the cultural politics that underpinned much of their earlier work. A series of rebellions and conflicts that stretched from British Nyasaland (Malawi) to French West Africa, as well as the resonance of some German and Turkish propaganda aimed at Muslim populations in North Africa, caused the two leading colonial empires to question the wisdom of promoting European culture (no matter how limited) to their African subjects. For the French, it entailed a retreat from the assimilationist policies of the conquest period and an embracing of what some termed “association,” a policy that looked suspiciously like the divide-and-conquer system of the British. Even the British moved a lot more systematically to promote the preservation of indigenous cultures (and cultural difference) and strongly discouraged any notion that their African subjects should aspire to the same stature as the European rulers. Ironically, this shift involved a greater emphasis on colonial education albeit with an altered curriculum to reflect the revised objectives of the imperial mission. The result was to simultaneously draw African societies closer to the imperial rulers while widening and ossifying the cultural differences between them.

Guided by the ethnographic work of Maurice Delafosse, French rulers aimed to emphasize “authentic” African traditions to their colonial subjects rather than impart Western practices. The scope of discontent manifested during the First World War shocked French officials, who became convinced that earlier efforts to assimilate Africans had only induced “mental confusion” and led to subversion. Those concerns were compounded by the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia at the end of the war and the new Communist government’s promotion of anti-colonial resistance. Consequently, France turned to a project of cultivating “reliable” leaders steeped in officially approved African customs that emphasized the diversity of African cultures and, most importantly, their collective, radical difference from Western culture. Administrators in West Africa and other parts of France’s colonial empire revised the curriculum of established schools to instruct students in African dance, handicrafts, traditional rituals, and the natural hierarchy of their communities. In addition, by the 1930s, the colonial authorities were creating “rural popular schools” to reach larger numbers of people outside the major cities with the altered educational perspective. This marked the first systematic effort on the part of French colonizers to expand the school system in Africa, ironically drawing more communities into an essentially Western-style instructional environment where African traditions were imparted to Africans in the French language.4

While not as aggressive as the French, the British also pushed cultural difference through their colonial schools in Africa during the 1920s and 1930s. Much of the technical education focused on hygienic practices, agronomy, and veterinary medicine. However, the schools were tailored to prevailing cultural communities in given areas. For example, in Nigeria, the British funded Quranic schools in the then-northern region, which was largely inhabited by Muslim Hausa and Fulani populations and constitutive of the Sokoto Caliphate. Those schools taught in the Arabic language, educated their students in the Quran, and emphasized the unique history of their communities. In French Africa, even, some colonial officials supported Quranic education (as in the case of Morocco) despite the strident secularism of the French Third Republic. In southern Nigeria many schools were still run by Christian missionary associations and others were state sponsored. There the language of instruction was English and the curriculum emphasized the distinctiveness of the local cultures and their history. As was the case with the French colonial schools, the British built their curriculum around the prevailing ideas generated by ethnographers and anthropologists in the interwar period. Those ideas stressed the essential and unalterable cultural differences between peoples around the world and suggested the distinct patterns of social organization and hierarchy that were presumed to be “natural” for each community. The role of the colonizer was redefined after 1918 as the “protector” of indigenous cultures from outside contamination and the preserver of peace between communities that otherwise would be in conflict with each other.5

The shifts in imperial policy after 1918 had several notable impacts on African culture. Despite the growing concern about the intrusion of Western ideas into African society and their potential for misinterpretation on the part of the colonial subjects, the reforms actually further imprinted British and French structures for generating and transmitting knowledge. They also created an incentive for colonial governments to expand a rudimentary education system to reach more people and new social groups previously excluded from the missionary and state-sponsored schools of the early period of imperial rule. The expansion in number and scope of educational institutions facilitated the spread of European languages and further impacted African societies through their disciplining of the colonial subject according to European ideas of what it meant to be African and what their societies should “naturally” look like. The emphasis on the value and distinctiveness of African cultures, as well as the European tendency to group all African cultures together as fundamentally similar to one another and radically different from Western culture, fostered the development of pan-Africanist ideas built around the notion of a distinctive African identity that could claim its own unique contribution to broader human culture. Consequently, the effort by colonial officials to forge a disciplined and loyal subject population in partnership with European rulers actually expanded the pantheon of dissent. It also fostered the emergence of a distinct class of Western-educated Africans fluent in Europeans languages with connections to the colonial state and having access to information directly from Europe. Increasing numbers even traveled to France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western countries to complete their education. This movement allowed for the formation of transnational networks of political activists, intellectuals, and artists.

Media and Empire, 1930s–1950s

In the 1930s, colonial officials embraced new forms of media to disseminate their policies as well as affect the changes in African society Europeans desired in order to more firmly establish control over the subject population. Specifically, both French and British imperial governments began to experiment with the use of film as a mode of colonial instruction and social control. Motion pictures were not new to Africa in the 1930s, however. Missionaries had begun using film by the First World War to make instructional short films centered on biblical stories for the purpose of encouraging conversion. Already by the 1920s, movie theaters had been established in several of Africa’s major cities, including Dakar, Lagos, and Mombasa. Access to most early formal theaters was restricted to European audiences, and theaters were built in the Western districts of African cities. However, Africans found ways around the restrictions of location and price. The legendary Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène, spoke of his encounters with the cinema as a youth in the 1930s. He also related stories of how he and his friends would create distractions outside so that others could sneak in and watch the films in the darkened theater.6 In addition, some distributers were also bringing film to rural audiences through open-air theaters. This involved setting up a screen against a tree or building and using a generator to power the projector. Audiences gathered around the screen to watch the projection, often bringing food with them and engaging in vigorous conversations about what they were witnessing. Film had gained a wide audience in many parts of Africa by the 1930s, and this attracted the attention of government officials keen to regulate and exploit the new media for their own interests.

The French became particularly concerned with regulating regulate the cinematic space and access to the images consumed by African audiences. The issue came to a head in the early 1930s when some local officials raised concerns about illicit movie theaters operating in the back of stores and other businesses. Enterprising Africans obtained prints and rudimentary equipment and would set up theaters in their shops after hours for small audiences. Claiming that these theaters posed fire and sanitation hazards, administrators petitioned for stricter regulation of the distribution and viewing of film in the French territories. Not incidental to the push for a regulated cinema was the desire to control the kinds of information and social impact that film could have on audiences so that only colonial-sanctioned messages would reach those under European rule. The result of those efforts was the promulgation of the Laval Decree in 1934. Named after Pierre Laval, the French minister of colonies (who would become a future Nazi collaborator) the ordinance had three main provisions. One provision aimed at tightly censoring the images available for African consumption on the silver screen. The second component sketched in very preliminary terms the kinds of images deemed appropriate for Africans, the ones that they would respond to most positively. The third component required that all those who wished to screen films in Africa (specifically West Africa) had to first obtain a license. Together, the various dimensions of the Laval Decree outlined the parameters of a film politics that aimed to regulate the entire cinema industrial complex.7

While the French approached films from a largely regressive and regulatory direction, the British became more proactive and sought to directly harness the new media to the colonial project. This was manifested in the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment (BEKE). In the midst of a 1929 plague outbreak in Lagos, Nigeria, the colonial government commissioned William Sellers to make a short instructional film on proper hygiene that would be distributed to audiences throughout the region in an effort to combat the health crisis. The Central Office of Information in London deemed the project a success and opened discussions about how best to maximize the impact of film in promoting colonial objectives. In the interim, the International Missionary Society—with backing from the Carnegie Corporation in the United States—embarked on a program to make documentaries about life in the Cooper Belt of North and South Rhodesia (both British colonies).

Beginning in 1932, the campaign expanded into making films that offered instruction on how to improve living and working conditions in the mining communities. Named the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment, the effort produced a library of thirty-five films, nineteen of which centered on agriculture and six on health and hygiene. The idea was to create an educational archive that could be used throughout Africa to teach Africans practices that would enhance productivity in the colonies. In 1939, British officials decided to create their own version of BEKE and founded the Colonial Film Unit. Initially conceived as a means to promote African support for the Second World War, which commenced that year, the project grew to encompass a range of media including books, manuals on how to make films, documentaries, instructional films, and the formation of Mobile Film Units to distribute motion pictures throughout Africa. Some movies, including Men of Africa (1939) and Daybreak in Udi (1948), became staples of colonial instructional cinema. Consequently, the British systematically promoted expansion of the film industry and access to motion pictures in Africa in a desire to further encourage changes in African society along lines approved by the colonial state.8

Noting the success of British efforts to harness film to colonial objectives, France moved in a more proactive direction after the Second World War. The French government established an Overseas Cinema Commission in 1949 with the stated objective of using film to foster colonial development and Franco-African cooperation. The Commission sponsored the making of films like Daybreak in Udi as well as regulating the films imported into the African colonies. By the 1950s, France and the United Kingdom had embraced the cinema as a critical tool in the arsenal of colonial control as well as a means to foster social change in Africa. In addition, audiences for entertainment film throughout the continent continued to expand, especially as economic conditions and educational levels improved after 1945. European-based distribution and theater companies significantly expanded their operations in Africa, building new theaters, opening viewing networks in previously untouched regions, and funding more open-air theater operations.

Culture and Media in Decolonization, 1950s–1960s

In addition to film, the media of newspapers and radio also greatly expanded following the Second World War. Literacy rates had modestly improved in some parts of Africa in the decades prior to 1939, but after the conflict, European governments sought to respond to the upsurge of anti-colonial activities by accelerating reform efforts that included the expansion of the education system. More secondary schools and some of Africa’s first universities were established after 1945. The number of Africans attending European and American institutions of higher learning also increased. Governments provided more funding for infrastructure development, as well as for light industry and improved agriculture. This was motivated in part by the needs of European economic reconstruction, but it also recognized the rapidly changing political environment in Africa. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Western-educated Africans had formed political clubs and reading groups, and established newspapers. Some ventured into labor organization among the growing urban working class that resulted from colonial development projects. After 1945, the proto-nationalist movements developed mass followings that forced political reforms from the colonial rulers. Restrictions on the press, assembly, and access to media such as motion pictures were loosened, although not entirely lifted. The press and a variety of media expanded rapidly during the 1950s.

The journal Présence Africaine produced its first edition in December 1947 from offices in both Paris and Dakar. It quickly emerged as a space for the publication of information on the social changes impacting Africa, economic data, dissemination of creative works such as poetry and serialized novels, as well as political commentary and debate. By the mid-1950s, those discussions included the role of cinema and other visual media in the promotion of African sovereignty and the construction of African identities.9

Meanwhile, Présence Africaine took the initiative to encourage an independent exchange of ideas about African culture while also directly participating in the development of anti-colonialist media during the 1950s. It sponsored the film, titled Les statues meurent aussi (1953), which was directed by Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, and Ghislain Cloquet, all of whom would become central figures in the colonial French New Wave in the late 1950s and 1960s. The film explored the issue of the Western appropriation of African cultural artifacts and their display in European museums. It also tackled the question of the process whereby those objects were manufactured, showing that they were increasingly made in workshops for explicit distribution to the West and were thereby devoid of any actual cultural meaning. Présence Africaine also sponsored two international conferences of Black Writers and Artists (Paris, 1956; Rome, 1959) at which cultural workers from throughout Africa and the African diaspora discussed the nature of African societies, the role of cultural production and media in the decolonization process, and the responsibility of intellectuals in the construction of postcolonial nations.10

As Africans increasingly gave voice to their interests through access to a variety of media, the colonial governments also sought to maintain control over information and expression in the colonies. Radio was one of the most effective means for officials to disseminate the knowledge they wanted Africans to encounter. Until the 1950s, access to radio was greatly limited across Africa. The British and French had introduced small radio outlets in their colonies during the 1920s and slowly expanded the medium’s reach during the 1930s. After 1945, colonial administrations invested more capital in expanding radio diffusion throughout the colonies as a means of reaching larger audiences much faster with official information, before many Africans could access what nationalists and anti-colonialists were producing. The development of transistor technology in the late 1940s and 1950s greatly aided the expansion of radio’s reach and provided an incentive for European governments to embrace it as a mechanism of communication to African communities. While most broadcasts were in European languages, the British and French increasingly included indigenous language programming to reach wider audiences beyond the Western-educated elite. Officials recognized the limitations of communicating only in the idiom of the colonizer and sought to cultivate popular consent for imperial policies as well as promote differences between the Western-educated elite that directed anti-colonial movements and the broader population. Ironically, the move toward African-language broadcasts undermined the promotion of the European language as the administrative lingua franca of empire, which was one of the critical dimensions to colonial practice since the late 19th century.11

Some anti-colonial activists also noted the constraints inherent in communicating in the language of the colonizer and increasingly argued for the use of visual media, especially film, as a tool, with which to combat imperial rule. In French Africa, Paulin Soumanou Vieyra brought together some of his friends in the Groupe Africain du Cinéma (GAC) in 1954 with the explicit aim of making films that would promote the cause of African independence. In addition, Vieyra and his cohort consistently debated with their confreres in the pages of Présence Africaine about the importance of cinema for national liberation and postcolonial development. They asserted an implicit link between forms of modern mass media and social improvement as well as postcolonial economic reconstruction. Vieyra emerged as the leading proponent of film’s utility for creating images of Africans and African society that could counter the negative stereotypes of Africans that had been cultivated since the period of the scramble for empire. He also argued that motion pictures should be viewed as an exportable commodity to raise capital for internal development.

Promotion of a film industry in Africa was also essential for the broader development of African economies as it encouraged the education of skilled workers, created new forms of employment, and generated revenue. The material benefits of the cinema were in addition to the social effects of African-made films that carried progressive messages and instilled confidence among Africans in themselves. Consequently, media and culture became spaces where the struggle for political control in Africa played out during the period of decolonization.12

Nation Building, Media, and Culture, 1960s–1970s

From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, independence swept Africa as the old colonial empires gave way to sovereign nations throughout the continent. In most countries the transition was achieved through negotiations, which were punctuated by strikes, demonstrations, and calls for moderate political reforms. In other areas, including Algeria, Zimbabwe, the Portuguese colonies (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde), and South Africa, liberation wars and sustained mass protest were required to win independence. The new indigenous governments embraced mass media as an essential tool of governance and invested in the expansion of radio, cinema, and print media in the 1960s. Frequently, administrations created special ministries for information and media that were charged with expanding the reach of all media forms as well as creating content that enhanced the government and its policies. The media was a vital link between the state and its citizens. Political authorities used radio and the press to disseminate information about development projects, cultivate loyalty among the population, and direct social changes that would sustain the new governments. Radio was a relatively inexpensive outlet for reaching communities spread across vast territories. It was also a mechanism whereby governments could connect with people with a variety of dialects who were not yet literate. Postcolonial African leaders viewed radio as a more potent form of media than the press, which was limited to the literate population and mostly published in European languages, further inhibiting access and impact. Through the vehicle of radio African leaders could speak directly to their populations to promote a sense of national unity as well as drum up support for their economic development programs. Concomitantly, the use of that medium often enhanced the prestige and “visibility” of the head of state throughout the country. With the rise of more authoritarian governments in the late 1960s, the radio increasingly became a mechanism of social control, restricting access to information and promoting official versions of the news to the people.

Other forms of media were also developed in the early independence period. By the mid-1960s, several Africans were making films that were gaining international notoriety for their work. Some governments also accepted the cinema as a critical form of expression to enhance the legitimacy of the new country as well as to foster social development. By the end of the 1960s, Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Med Hondo (Mauritania), Djibril Diop Mambèty (Senegal), Souleymane Cissé (Mali), and Kwah Ansah (Ghana) were making motion pictures that explored African societies and the role of tradition, and promoted a progressive vision of African modernity. They viewed film as a means to foster political consciousness and a sense of belonging that could overcome the colonial legacy and instill confidence among Africans. Many of the earliest African films critiqued the colonial legacy primarily for its impact on African mentalities and the distortions Europeans introduced into local cultures. Moreover, the films tackled what many regarded as the archaic aspects of African tradition that blocked further social improvement for women, marginal communities, and the poor. By the early 1970s, some films were even challenging the African governments that had come to power after independence, citing the rampant corruption and isolation of a disinterested political elite as barriers to realizing the aspirations of the people following national liberation.13

In addition to radio and film, African leaders and culture workers continued to innovate on other forms of expression as part of a general project to forge postcolonial African national cultures. In 1966, Senegal—under the leadership of then-president Léopold Sédar Senghor, a proponent of Negritude—hosted the World Festival of Black Arts from April 1 to April 24 of that year in Dakar. Inaugurated by President Senghor, who was also a renowned poet and philosopher, the gathering built on the earlier meetings sponsored by Présence Africaine during the 1950s. Many participating writers, musicians, dancers, and filmmakers displayed their work as part of a concerted effort to promote the creativity of Africans and the African diaspora as well as to foster a sense of Pan-Africanist unity. In Algiers, capital of Algeria, the First Pan-African Cultural Festival took place from July 21 to August 1, 1969, and a Second World Festival of Black Arts was held in Lagos, Nigeria, from January 15 to February 12, 1977.

In the interim, Tunisia also hosted the first film festival on the African continent—known in French as the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (JCC)—and the inaugural African film festival—eventually named the Festival Panafricain du Cinéma de Ouagadougou (FESPACO)—was convened in the former Upper Volta (which is present-day Burkina Faso) in February 1969. African cultural activists also engaged in global congresses and festivals promoting their work to non-African audiences. African writers, artists, and filmmakers were prominent at the Havana Cultural Congress held in Cuba January 4–11, 1968, as well as at other international gatherings of Third World people. Information about Africa and representations of African society were being developed by Africans and promoted beyond the continent to counter the prevailing understanding of Africa forged in the imperial context. African culture workers disseminated their products around the world in a manner that allowed them to control the messaging and project an image of Africa at odds with Western notions circulated through its media.14

The former colonial powers, including France and the United Kingdom, continued to beam radio broadcasts into Africa even after the end of imperial rule. Furthermore, they promoted the distribution of films in the former colonies as both ongoing sources of revenue and as a mechanism to maintain cultural and political influence on the continent. They were joined by the United States, which began to engage with Africa through film, radio, and the press as part of its Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union.15 Consequently, media in Africa remained a contested terrain long after independence. Local governments, former imperial rulers, Cold War rivals, and African cultural activists all sought the expansion of communications methods to convey their messages and promote their objectives. Those aspirations were possible because of the significant changes in African societies that included rapidly expanding literacy, economic growth, urbanization, and population expansion.

Culture and Postcolonial Crises, 1970s–1990s

By the mid-1970s, many African countries began to experience economic hardship. The slowing of the world’s economy from the late 1960s combined with the international oil shock of 1973 did contribute to a decline in African exports and rising borrowing costs associated with large-scale development projects. In addition, prices for many commodities produced in Africa (including coffee, rice, cotton, and cocoa) began a steady decline that squeezed African governments’ revenues and induced widespread misery in rural areas throughout the continent. Consequently, governments scaled back investment in media, and cultural workers had a noticeable decline in output that continued well into the 1980s. As economic difficulties mounted, many African states became unstable, with some subject to frequent interventions by the military. By the end of the 1970s, African media outlets had largely been reduced to disseminating tightly controlled information generated by military and other authoritarian rulers. The number of newspapers declined and the scope of what could be printed or broadcast on radio had been severely narrowed.

The work of filmmakers, writers, and other artists in the 1970s and 1980s was noted for a shift away from critiquing the colonial legacy and pushing for progressive social development toward a confrontation with their own leaders. Such filmmakers as Sembène and Cissé, as well as writers like Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) and Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), explored corruption as a force that was eating away at the gains made from independence and swallowing any hope for the future improvement of society. These artists found their work censored; were sometimes imprisoned; and even had to go into exile, sometimes for many years. It was increasingly difficult for filmmakers to ply their craft as conditions in their home countries deteriorated and international funding dried up.16 Writers could not get their work openly distributed in their countries. And radio was reduced to an official mouthpiece of the government with little or no room available for opposition voices or creativity. Even the cultural infrastructure that had been built throughout the colonial and early independence period declined as funds for maintaining theaters and equipment were reduced or eliminated; international distributors turned from the African market; and incomes declined, further constricting the potential consumer base for African-produced culture.

During the 1970s, television emerged as a new medium for communication and cultural expression in many African countries. The first television broadcasts in Africa were made in Morocco in 1954, followed by Algeria (1956) and Nigeria (1962). Shortly after independence, increasing numbers of sub-Saharan African countries founded national television stations; they included Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. However, viewing sets were still very expensive in the 1960s and the medium was confined almost exclusively to the elite in each country. Only in the following decade did governments begin to actively promote television as a means for reaching the people and conveying information from the state. Even then, some countries did not get their first television broadcasts until the 1980s and 1990s, including Cameroon (1983), Chad (1984), Botswana (1992), Gambia (1994), and Malawi (1996). Initially, most television programming consisted of news and information. Gradually, entertainment, sporting events, and serialized programming from outside Africa were introduced. Despite the trend toward more regular broadcasting and diversified programming, television remained a mostly urban medium and generally accessible only to the middle and upper strata of society. By the 1980s, many governments were permitting international networks to broadcast into Africa, and some European governments (e.g., France) sponsored the development of European-language networks dedicated to the African viewing market. The further expansion of satellite broadcasting capabilities permitted the emergence of twenty-four-hour cable news channels in the West that were transmitted around the world. Without the blocking technologies that the most advanced countries possess, African communities were easily accessible to the new networks, further undermining the capacity of states to control the flow of information to their people.17

The growth, of television combined with the revenue challenges that resulted from the economic crises of the 1970s and 1980s, induced a further shift among African cultural workers, especially filmmakers. Thematically, the 1980s witnessed the emergence of “return to the source” films associated with the work of Gaston Kaboré (Wend Kuuni, 1983) and Idrissa Ouédraogo (Tilaï, 1990), both from Burkina Faso. Such films explored pre-colonial, rural African societies and valorized tradition as legitimate in the present. They marked an exploration of the inner workings of African communities with an objective of validating what was distinctively African as a path toward development and social organization.18 This shift reflected the general decline in confidence with regard to the early postcolonial nationalist agendas and the collapse of global ideological systems in the late Cold War. In addition to new themes evident in African cinema from the 1980s, there was also a push by some to recognize the significance of the market as a driver of creativity and an insistence by a younger generation to produce cultural works that resonated in the consumer space rather than hold to the more didactic and politically prescriptive cultural work of the late colonial and early postcolonial period. The association of African filmmakers—FEPACI, Fédération Panafricaine des Cinéastes—generated the Niamey Manifesto at its meeting in the capital of Niger in 1982 that explicitly took note of the altered circumstances of the early 1980s. The statement endorsed the making of entertainment films as legitimate, recommended that filmmakers not be too critical of their governments or those from whom they received funding, and called for more private investment in Africa’s cinema industry. All of those points stepped away from the much more radical pronouncements from the earlier conference of filmmakers convened in Algiers in 1975 during which FEPACI called for a politically conscious cinema and insisted that governments take control over the cinematic infrastructure to advance the aims of the African people.19

Cultural Politics and Globalization, 1990s–Present

The end of the Cold War, coupled with the expansion of neoliberal economic globalization, and technological innovation, impacted media and cultural production from the early 1990s to the first decades of the 21st century. The sudden decline or elimination of international aid and funding for African governments when the Cold War rapidly unwound between 1989 and 1991 contributed to the collapse of many states across the continent and the eruption of civil war from Sierra Leone to Somalia. Those events exacerbated the already very serious economic crisis, further eroding the social infrastructure and programs aimed to provide basic services to communities in Africa. Power shortages, rising prices for basic necessities, and disruptions to agricultural production caused by climate change and war contributed to a broad-based unravelling of the media systems built during the 1960s and 1970s. While radio remained the main source for information, the frequency of broadcasts declined and community access was restricted due to rising unemployment and social dislocation. Television became less relevant as people’s contact with the medium dropped. Even the movie theater infrastructure across Africa fell into steep decline, resulting in the loss of most outlets by the end of the 20th century or early 21st century. Many of those in the culture industry faced a struggle to survive.

In addition to the economic and geopolitical challenges of the 1990s, new technologies began to impact African media and culture. The growth of the videotape industry from the late 1990s into the 21st century offered a possible response to the challenges posed to filmmaking and the visual entertainment industry. Starting in Ghana in the late 1980s, entrepreneurs adapted the missionary approach to film from the early decades of the 20th century to the new video technology. They started making straight-to-video low-budget morality tales that were designed to be commercially successful and promote the new individualism of neoliberal globalization. By the mid-1990s, the Ghanaian experiment was being replicated in Nigeria, where traveling street theater troupes began filming their performances and putting them out on video to further enhance revenue streams as well as promote their cultural work. Within ten years, the Nollywood video revolution was well underway.

The appeal of the video films reached far beyond Africa, as they became prominent sources of entertainment for audiences in the African diaspora of Europe and North America. The Nollywood products were often plagued by poor production quality and simplistic plots. However, they were inexpensive and could be consumed in the private space of the home in a context when public movie theaters were in sharp decline across Africa. Moreover, they frequently targeted local communities, as they were filmed in the diverse languages spoken in many African countries. Thus, they told stories familiar to the consumers in the daily spoken languages of the people. Unlike the earlier decades of African cinema, which appealed to broad audiences and sought a general African consumer, the video films catered to communal identities and did not suggest a development project to the viewer. Rather, the objective was to entertain, divert, and promote values of self-interest and the pursuit of individual success (economic or social). Consequently, Nollywood reflected the deep social changes at work in Africa and around the world in the post-Cold War new order.20

Finally, in the early 21st century, African filmmakers and writers met the challenges presented by the re-ordering of the global economy and the new technologies (including the slow spread of the internet in Africa) by offering an updated approach to the cinema. Abderrahmane Sissoko (Mali and Mauritania), Fanta Regina Nacro (Burkina Faso), and others offered films that critiqued globalization, specifically Africa’s experience with structural adjustment programs promoted by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. They presented African communities as struggling to rebuild their societies after years of war, foreign intervention, and economic dislocation. However, they did so in a manner that acknowledged the need to reach a broader commercial audience by improving the quality and entertainment value of their work. The latest generation of African filmmakers also jettisoned the didactic approach characteristic of those from the early independence period. Instead of directing their narrative toward and urging a change of consciousness within the African consumer of the film, Sissoko and his cohort aimed for the global audience, insisting that Africa’s story was humanity’s experience and that Africans were already cognizant of the forces at work in their societies. What needed to change was the non-African (generally Western) understanding of Africa and the global economy. Change and progress could only be achieved through the cooperation of all people around the world. Consequently, their work implicitly recognized the need for a broader consumer market than just that located in Africa.21

The advent of the Internet and growing access to cellular communications technology facilitated distribution of the new cultural production from Africa as well as the capacity of individual culture workers to promote their work to international audiences. It also allowed new sources of information to penetrate African communities and for Africans to communicate with others around the world. Thus, the exchange of culture and information within and between African societies as well as beyond Africa offered new opportunities for social development and reflected a continent that began to emerge from the crises of the 1970s to the 1990s. The spread of new modes of communication is evident in the political activism that has challenged long-entrenched autocrats and those who aspired to hold onto power in defiance of popular will in the 1990s. People’s personal access to information and ability to communicate outside of official channels (which have often not been rebuilt following the earlier crises) has presented new challenges to governments and forced a rethinking about the bases for organizing society and the values that underpin distinct communities.22

Discussion of the Literature

Scholarly engagement with the history of media and culture in Africa has taken a variety of forms and approaches. One angle has been to explore colonial uses of visual and literary forms to legitimate, instantiate, and frame the imperial project. One of the earliest studies is Pierre Boulanger’s Le Cinéma colonial, which examines the use of film as a vehicle for conveying colonialist imagery to international audiences in the process reifying negative tropes of the colonized.23 David Slavin’s Colonial Cinema and Imperial France, 1919–1939 continues this theme, exploring the failings of the left to challenge racist and sexist representations of Africans on the silver screen during the interwar period.24 Kenneth Cameron takes a global approach to the analysis of race as presented in Hollywood cinema using Africa and Africans as a baseline negative to reaffirm racial difference in the Western world that surprisingly subverts that system at the same time.25 Others have broadened the scope beyond film to examine a range of visual forms tied to the experience of colonialism. One example is Paul S. Landau’s and Deborah D. Kaspin’s edited volume, Images and Empires. The essays range from studies of film, literature, photography, comics, exhibitions, and other means of creating or presenting the image of Africa through the imperial gaze.26

The largest body of literature about media and culture in Africa has focused on cinema. In the last two decades the field of African cinema has grown into a major line of inquiry into the colonial and postcolonial experience, crossing many disciplines and spawning innovative methodologies. The two pioneers of the field are Manthia Diawara (African Cinema) and Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike (Black African Cinema). Their studies offered detailed narratives of the origins of African filmmaking and imperialism’s impact on its trajectories as well as development over time.27 Starting from their interventions, scholars have examined particular genres of filmmaking, the ideological and conceptual battles among African filmmakers, and the ways in which African cinema has contributed to the development of concepts of modernity while intervening in global conversations about the interconnections of diverse cultural communities. Some of the most recent scholarship in these areas includes Josef Gugler’s African Film, Melissa Thackway’s Africa Shoots Back, Roy Armes’s African Filmmaking North and South of the Sahara, James Genova’s Cinema and Development in West Africa, Femi Shaka’s Modernity and the African Cinema, and Kenneth Harrow’s Postcolonial African Cinema.28

Several edited volumes have brought together the analysis of African cinema with the scholarship on colonial film, bridging the experiences of motion pictures from inside and outside Africa, putting it in an international context. June Givanni’s edited compilation Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema is one of the most important in this genre.29 In addition, Imruh Bakari’s and Mbye Cham’s African Experiences of Cinema brings together seminal statements from African filmmakers, their own commentaries on African cinema, scholarly interventions, and conversations between academics and directors.30 Those volumes are joined by Dina Sherzer’s Cinema, Colonialism, Postcolonialism; Françoise Pfaff’s Focus on African Films; and Vivian-Bickford Smith and Richard Mendelsohn’s Black + White in Colour as important collections of research and theoretical insight into Africa’s history in film and cinematic production.31

In addition to film, literature has also generated voluminous scholarship. Much of the most recent work was centered on the development of narrative and literary forms in Africa during the colonial and postcolonial periods, with some recent attention to newspapers and other expressive forms. For examples from the period of decolonization and early independence years, readers are encouraged to see V. Y. Mudimbe’s The Surreptitious Speech, as well as James Currey’s Africa Writes Back and Dominic Thomas’s Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa.32 Others offer a more focused approach by country, literary genre, or political movements. They include Lindiwe Dovey’s African Film and Literature, Stephanie Newell’s Writing African Women, Kadiatu Kanneh’s African Identities, and Jonathan Smolin’s Moroccan Noir.33

Recently, scholars have turned to an exploration of television, radio, and other forms of popular culture adding to the richness of the understanding of Africa’s cultural experience during the colonial and postcolonial periods. Karin Barber’s Readings in African Popular Culture remains an important starting point for this line of inquiry.34 V. Y. Mudimbe’s edited volume Nations, Identities, Cultures goes beyond Africa but provides additional material on the relationship between culture and the formation of national identities in the postcolonial era.35 Louise Bourgault provides the reader with an analysis of the role that new media such as radio and television played in the construction of images about Africa and conveyed to African audiences while remaining attentive to the influence of print in her study Mass Media in Sub-Saharan Africa.36 Finally, the advent of video has produced new research into the blurring of boundaries between film, television, and visual media. Mahir Saul and Ralph Austen’s edited volume Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century is a noteworthy contribution to this field.37

Primary Sources

Repositories for material on the history of media and culture in Africa are varied, with important concentrations in the archives of the former colonial powers. For example, the Archives Nationales d’Outre-mer (ANOM, formerly the Centre des Archives d’Outre-mer) in Aix-en-Provence, France, contains an extensive amount of material related to French rule in Africa, stretching to the early modern period. They also hold all the editions of Présence Africaine and other journals as well as newspapers from the colonial period into the 20th century. There are sections pertaining to culture, media, cinema, and the press. La Cinématheque française is an invaluable source for film. Their holdings span the entire history of cinema and contain some significant material on film’s engagement with Africa. It also has a section dedicated to the technology of making and projecting film from the earliest days of the cinema. The African Film Library connected with the Institut Français is also essential for research on African cinema. It has resources that allow researchers to examine France and Africa’s postcolonial relationship. Many African filmmakers received funding from France’s government agencies from the 1960s onward. Consequently, their works can be viewed through the holdings of the African Film Library. The Archives Nationales du Sénégal contain records for the entirety of former French West Africa in addition to Senegal’s postcolonial history. They also have specific dossiers pertaining to French efforts to regulate the cinema and media access in French West Africa during the colonial period. It has especially rich holdings for the period of decolonization in the 1950s.

For cinematic research in the Anglophone world, readers may see the British Film Institute. This is a major repository for anything related to the cinema, especially in the Anglophone countries of Africa. Numerous other libraries and national archives also hold relevant materials on the history of African culture, media, film, and literature. For the former British colonies and protectorates, the National Archives and specialized collections are essential locations for research. These include the London University School of Oriental and African Studies and the Oxford University Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies. The Howard University Media Center, located in Washington, D.C., is also a rich source of information on African culture. The Library of Congress in the United States has a vast catalogue of material on a range of issues pertaining to media, culture, and society in Africa. For central Africa the main source is the State Archives of Belgium and the Africa Archive of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Brussels. Unfortunately, the circumstances of access to materials in many African countries and even the quality of the archival system is uneven. Many countries do not provide websites with available catalogues to assess what materials are contained in the repositories. In the area of media, the holdings in many parts of the continent are minimal at best. Consequently, most systematic collections are located outside of Africa.

Further Reading

Armes, Roy. African Filmmaking North and South of the Sahara. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Bakari, Imruh, and Mbye B. Cham, eds. African Experiences of Cinema. London: BFI, 1996.Find this resource:

Barber, Karin, ed. Readings in African Popular Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.Find this resource:

Boulanger, Pierre. Le cinema colonial: De “L’Atlantide” à “Lawrence d’Arabie.” Paris: Editions Seghers, 1975.Find this resource:

Bourgault, Louise M. Mass Media in Sub-Saharan Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Cameron, Kenneth M. Africa on Film: Beyond Black and White. New York: Continuum, 1994.Find this resource:

Diawara, Manthia. African Cinema: Politics and Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Dovey, Lindiwe. African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Genova, James E. Cinema and Development in West Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Givanni, June, ed. Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema: Audiences, Theory and the Moving Image. London: BFI, 2003.Find this resource:

Gugler, Joseph. African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Harrow, Kenneth W. Postcolonial African Cinema: From Political Engagement to Postmodernism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Kanneh, Kadiatu. African Identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography, Pan Africanism and Black Literatures. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.Find this resource:

Landau, Paul S., and Deborah D. Kaspin, eds. Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Mahir, Saul, and Ralph A. Austen, eds. Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Revolution. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Mudimbe, V. Y., ed. The Surreptitious Speech: “Présence Africaine” and the Politics of Otherness 1947–1987. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Newell, Stephanie, ed. Writing African Women: Gender, Popular Culture and Literature in West Africa. London: Zed Books, 1997.Find this resource:

Pfaff, Françoise, ed. Focus on African Films. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Shaka, Femi Okiremuete. Modernity and the African Cinema: A Study in Colonialist Discourse, Postcoloniality, and Modern African Identities. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Sherzer, Dina, ed., Cinema, Colonialism, Postcolonialism: Perspectives from the French and Francophone Worlds. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Slavin, Henry David. Colonial Cinema and Imperial France, 1919–1939: White Blind Spots, Male Fantasies, Settler Myths. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Smolin, Jonathan. Moroccan Noir: Police, Crime, and Politics in Popular Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Thackway, Melissa. Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Thomas, Dominic. Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Ukadike, Nwachukwu Frank. Black African Cinema. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.Find this resource:


(1.) J. P. Daughton, An Empire Divided: Republicanism and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880–1914 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 167–169.

(2.) Kenneth M. Cameron, Africa On Film: Beyond Black and White (New York: Continuum, 1994), 19–25, 29.

(3.) Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Black African Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 30–31.

(4.) James E. Genova, Colonial Ambivalence, Cultural Authenticity, and the Limitations of Mimicry in French-Ruled West Africa, 1914–1956 (New York: Peter Lang, 2004), 113–115.

(5.) Benoît de L’Estoile, “Au nom des ‘vrais Africains’: Les élites scolarisées de l’Afrique colonial face à l’anthropologie (1930–1950),” Terrain (29 March 1997).

(6.) James E. Genova, Cinema and Development in West Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 26–28.

(7.) Manthia Diawara, African Cinema: Politics and Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 22–23; and Genova, Cinema and Development in West Africa, 29–30.

(8.) Ukadike, Black African Cinema, 33; and Diawara, African Cinema, 1–5.

(9.) V. Y. Mudimbe, ed., “Introduction,” in the Surreptitious Speech: “Présence Africaine” and the Politics of Otherness 1947–1987 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), xvii–xix.

(10.) Ukadike, Black African Cinema, 49.

(11.) Louise M. Bourgault, Mass Media in Sub-Saharan Africa (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995), 69–72.

(12.) Genova, Cinema and Development in West Africa, 81–83; Ukadike, Black African Cinema, 68–69; and Diawara, African Cinema, 23.

(13.) Kenneth W. Harrow, Postcolonial African Cinema: From Political Engagement to Postmodernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), 46–47.

(14.) Ukadike, Black African Cinema, 194–195, 200–201; and Diawara, African Cinema, 128–139.

(15.) Ukadike, Black African Cinema, 63.

(16.) Diawara, African Cinema, 113–115.

(17.) Bourgault, Mass Media in Sub-Saharan Africa, 109–116.

(18.) Diawara, African Cinema, 159–166.

(19.) Imruh Bakari and Mbye Cham, eds., African Experiences of Cinema (London: BFI, 1996), 17–36.

(20.) Mahir Saul and Ralph A. Austen, eds., “Introduction,” in Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010), 1–7.

(21.) James E. Genova, “Re-Thinking African Cinema in the Context of Third Cinema: From ‘Mandabi’ to ‘Bamako’ and the Mediascape of Post-colonial Identity,” in Rethinking Third Cinema: The Role of Anti-Colonial Media and Aesthetics in Postmodernity, eds. Frieda Ekotto and Adeline Koh (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2009), 145–146.

(22.) Genova, “Re-Thinking African Cinema in the Context of Third Cinema,” 125–132.

(23.) Pierre Boulanger, Le Cinéma colonial: De “l’Atlantide” de “Lawrence d’Arabie” (Paris: Éditions Seghers, 1975).

(24.) David Slavin, Colonial Cinema and Imperial France, 1919–1939: White Blind Spots, Male Fantasies, Settler Myths (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

(25.) Cameron, Africa on Film.

(26.) Paul S. Landau and Deborah D. Kaspin, eds., Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

(27.) Manthia Diawara, African Cinema; and Ukadike, Black African Cinema.

(28.) Josef Gugler, African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003); Melissa Thackway, Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003); Roy Armes, African Filmmaking North and south of the Sahara (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006); Genova, Cinema and Development in West Africa; Femi Okiremuete Shaka, Modernity and the African Cinema: A Study in Colonialist Discourse, Postcoloniality, and African Identities (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2004); and Harrow, Postcolonial African Cinema.

(29.) June Givanni, ed., Symbolic Narrative/African Cinema: Audiences, Theory and the Moving Image (London: British Film Institute, 2000).

(30.) Bakari and Cham, eds., African Experiences of Cinema.

(31.) Dina Sherzer, ed., Cinema, Colonialism, Postcolonialism: Perspectives form the French and Francophone Worlds (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996); Françoise Pfaff, ed., Focus on African Films (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004); and Vivian-Bickford Smith and Richard Mendelsohn, eds., Black + White in Colour: African History on Screen (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006).

(32.) Mudimbe, ed., The Surreptitious Speech; James Currey, ed., Africa Writes Back: The African Writers Series and the Launch of African Literature (Oxford: James Currey, 2008); and Dominic Thomas, Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).

(33.) Lindiwe Dovey, African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); Stephanie Newell, ed., Writing African Women: Gender, Popular Culture, and Literature in West Africa (London: Zed Books, 1997); Kadiatu Kanneh, African Identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography, Pan-Africanism and Black Literatures (London and New York: Routledge, 1998); and Jonathan Smolin, Moroccan Noir: Police, Crime, and Politics in Popular Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).

(34.) Karin Barber, ed., Readings in African Popular Culture (Oxford: James Currey, 1997).

(35.) V. Y. Mudimbe, ed., Nations, Identities, Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997).

(36.) Bourgault, Mass Media in Sub-Saharan Africa.

(37.) Saul and Austen, eds., Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century.