BBC’s African journey with Jonathan Dimbleby (Part 1)
In part one of the BBC2′s three-part documentary, An African journey with Jonathan Dimbleby, we got a fascinating look at the changing faces of three countries – Mali, Nigeria and Ghana. Jonathan Dimbleby describes the documentary as one that explores “an Africa that is too often forgotten but too important to ignore”.
The first episode of this documentary makes a huge effort to tell a different story. One that tells a story about a new group of émigré’s going back to their home countries from the West to contribute to development, new enterprises springing up and a cultural renaissance that revolves around music and fashion.
Abu Traore, the sand digger from Mali who dives 20 feet below the river Niger to excavate sand for just over $5.00 a day does bring the other part of Africa into sharp focus. This though is swiftly counterbalanced by another Malian, Serpent whose fortunes are a little different. With his brother, they make brisk business importing mopeds from China at considerably cheap prices to sell in Bamako.
Perhaps the most famous of all Malian architectural heritage is the Great Mosque built entirely of mud bricks in the 12th century and located in Djenné. Here, Jonathan joins a 74 year old master mason in mixing mud and straw for a new building.
In Ghana, Jonathan takes a close look at one of Ghana’s traditional chieftaincy systems, the extent to which football has grown and the new wave of brain gain brought on largely by increasing economic opportunities and a strong desire to contribute to Ghana’s development. “Ghana is my home. I can live here in comfort. My future is here. We need jobs and enterprise – and I can help make a difference” Stated Kofi Ansah one of Ghana’s foremost clothing designers and a returnee who has now become a houshold name in Ghana.
Given the controversy generated by a recent BBC documentary “Welcome to Lagos” which showcased the underbelly of Lagos, Nigerians could have been forgiven for rolling their eyes and muttering “…Here we go again….” to yet another BBC documentary. The take on Lagos and on Nigeria as a whole i suspect will be seen in a rather different light. This was the other side of Lagos. The side that features Aliko Dangote, one of only 11 African Billonaires and celebrates arguably the most exciting music industry in Africa.
Overall this was a no frills, unemotional and uncontroversial first-part of a documentary series that promises to go against the grain. Packing 3 countries and 6 or 7 themes into an hour inevitably meant that issues were not explored with intensity and deepness. However, Jonathan Dimbleby’s enthusiasm and passion for Africa shown through, even though his dancing skills in Mali were a little cringing to say the least. Click here to watch the first part in full
Related Article: Part 2