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Films About African Americans In Africa (Things That Make You Go Hmm…)

ShaftafricaI likely wouldn’t have posted the below trailer, but in watching it, it got me thinking – not about the obvious, hackneyed white-person-in-Africa plot-line; But rather, I realized that I couldn’t come up with many titles of fictional narrative feature films that centered on stories about African Americans going to Africa, for whatever reason the story itself suggests, or who are already living there.

We’ve obviously had quite a number of films about white Americans or white Europeans either already living in Africa, or visiting some African country, in search of something or someone – whether it’s salvation, redemption, inspiration, vacation, themselves, their spouses, children, friends, their dogs, cats, apes, whatever; and it’s rare that they’re villains, nor in positions of inferiority. Also, those that are historically based usually involve white settlers, or remnants of colonialism, who come to see themselves as native to the land that their ancestors once occupied.

If Hollywood movies are any indication, one would think that white people were the only “race” of people who traveled internationally. A recent example would be Sex And The City 2, in which the characters spent much of the movie in Abu Dhabi, and, by most accounts (I haven’t seen the film), take part in some purportedly ignorant, cringe-worthy activities that insult the emirate and its people.

So, there I was, watching the below trailer for an upcoming film called Cairo Time, starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig (one of Hollywood’s resident “Arabs” we could call him; he’s part British (mother) and part Sudanese (father), and he’s played an Algerian, an Egyptian, an Iranian, a Middle Eastern Emirate ruler, a Saudi Arabian prince, an Islamic terrorist and whatever else I’m missing).

Anyway… so there I was wondering… it’d be refreshing to see more films about African Americans set anywhere in the African continent; I couldn’t think of many films with that as a basis for the story. Does Shaft In Africa count? Haile Gerima’s Sankofa is another.

And, to be clear, I don’t mean films that star African Americans playing Africans (there are certainly numerous examples of those); nor am I including documentaries. Rather, narrative fiction feature films with stories centered on black Americans either visiting a country (or several countries) in Africa for whatever reason, or who are already living in an African country.

Can you help me out on this folks… maybe I’m suffering from some form of temporary amnesia, and just can’t remember any films that fit the criteria.

Discussions abound about unifying the Diaspora; it’s not quite happening in real life; but at least, in the fantasy, make-believe world of the cinema, we can pretend, or show what could (or could not) be :). Black folks travel don’t they?

Here’s the trailer for Cairo Time that got me all pensive (needless to say, I won’t be seeing this):

12 comments to Films About African Americans In Africa (Things That Make You Go Hmm…)

  • That’s a great observation. I do remember Monique in Phat Girls– visiting the man of her dreams– went to Africa.

  • jeremy

    well off the top of my head, you could say Ali, but, that was a sorta kinda work of nonfiction since it happened. even if not exactly as it appeared onscreen, but still. i’ll keep thinking bout this one.

  • QueenMelmendi

    Gosh, I was going to say Phat Girls too. Hmmm…. The Color Purple. Nettie (the sister) goes to Africa on the missionary trip, right?

  • QueenMelmendi

    Phat Girls isn’t a bad movie at all @ Tambay. It has a positive message.

  • Anthony E.

    There is that Ice Cube film with Liz Hurley and think Ving Rhames was in there somewhere but it was a flop and seemed pretty boring.

    Also there is BELLY, the opus directed by music video wiz HYPE Williams. Nas character Sincere desired to uproot his family and head to the motherland and there is verbal description of the land. Only verbal most likely to maybe lack of funds or the fact that in the script the plane was to crash due to the Y2K bug. The new ending also left room for the rumored BEAST sequel of Nas returning to help DMX.

  • Call Me Mister Tibbs

    How about Samuel L. Jackson in “In My Country”, he plays a reporter sent to South Africa to cover the country’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
    The Ice Cube film is called Dangerous Ground.

  • Call Me Mister Tibbs

    I don’t know if you know the Nigerian film Ezra.
    It features, if I’m not mistaken a Black US judge played by Richard Gant presiding over a “War Crimes” type Tribunal.

    • Thanks Mister Tibbs. As you can see, we’re having to dig quite a bit to come up with titles :)

      And I think that’s actually unfortunate, especially with the wealth of films we’ve seen about whites in Africa.

      But keep them coming, if you think of any others. I haven’t found any more.

  • The documentary Soul to Soul is a good one. I remember there also being a documentary about a group of Black students (from DC?) going to Africa. As for feature films, none spring to mind at the moment…probably because I blocked them out.