My movie watching palate varies from day to day. If someone were to peruse my Netflix list of the shows I’ve watched, they would see that I’ve enjoyed action, drama, comedy, romance and my favorite of all, documentaries.
Lately, I’ve been watching several productions that have come out of African countries. In particular, Nigeria. That film industry has been given the sobriquet “Nollywood.” It is the fastest growing movie industry in the world, putting out more films annually than Hollywood.
I’ve found myself fascinated by both the storylines they have covered as well as watching people from the diaspora on the big screen to see the similarities/differences between them and the descendants of enslaved Africans. The films’ topics that I have watched have ranged from skin bleaching to children kidnapped at birth and later discovered to social issues like the effect of mining on the health of villagers. Interesting that very few of the productions I’ve seen have dwelled on apartheid or even the prior domination of those countries by European nations. Most of the films are subtitled although the characters do speak in English. Subtitles have never bothered me. They improve one’s reading skills tremendously as you need to quickly take in what is being said even if they are speaking English. The accents by the actors have not been very heavy either.
So while perusing Netflix a while back, I came upon a two-season drama series called Sons of the Caliphate. It tells the story of three friends from northern Nigeria, all rich, who grew up together and even attended school together. One is the son of an industrialist, the other is the son of a political godfather, and the third is a prince and heir to the throne of the caliphate.
The series has all the usual characters. The scheming stepmother, the idiotic half-brother, the other woman, the dutiful wife, the good guys going after the bad guys, political intrigue, etc.
What has been most pleasant about watching the series is the lack of profanity. Women are not disrespected by being called “bitches and hoes,” the men are not the product of single parents, so fathers are very active in their lives, and the n-word is not spewed out of everybody’s mouth as an adjective, verb, noun, pronoun, prepositional phrase, etc.
I am enjoying the fashion for both the men and the women. One of the female characters in the series I’m watching has some of the prettiest head wraps and African dress styles I have ever seen. The men even wear their fula (a type of African hat) reminiscent of the way Black men in America cock their brims a certain way.
What is amazing is the number of different languages they will use in speaking to one another. They go from English to native tribal languages to Swahili and Pidgen English.
It is good to see Africa portrayed in such a very positive light. Modern cities, beautiful homes, no different from anything in the West. Removing the stereotype of savages, starving children and the jungle is a priority and necessity.
So check out Sons of the Caliphate and then tell me what you think.
Arlene Jones is an Austin resident who writes a weekly column for the Austin Weekly News, a Growing Community Media publication.