(Above: ‘My Friend Fela.’ Source: YouTube video)
AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, a documentary series exploring the African Diaspora, returns for a 12th season today, January 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at 8 pm ET/10 pm PT on World Channel (visit World Channel to find channel number and time in your area).
This season starts with Joel Zito Araújo’s My Friend Fela, about the “the Nigerian icon and Afrobeat titan” Fela Kuti. Official biographer Carlos Moore, along with Kuti’s friends, wives and bandmates, discuss pan-African politics and other influences on Kuti’s life and music.
The film will be immediately followed by Birth of Afrobeat by Opiyo Okeyo, a hybrid live-action/animated short film in which drummer Tony Allen recounts how he and Kuti helped lay the groundwork for the Afrobeat.
Subsequent episodes, debuting Mondays through February 17, will also be available for streaming on worldchannel.org the day of their broadcast premiere.
Future episodes include:
January 27 – Amina, directed by Kivilcim Akay, about a 29-year-old Senegalese immigrant in Turkey seeking to reunite with her daughter and pursue a modeling career while dealing “with the harsh realities of her life.”
February 3 – Shamira Raphaëla’s Daddy and the Warlord, documenting Clarice Gargard’s trip to postwar Liberia to uncover the truth about her father’s connection to the infamous war criminal Charles Taylor.
February 10 – Gilda Brasileiro: Against Oblivion, directed by Viola Scheuerer and Roberto Manhães Reis, profiling one woman’s quest to raise awareness about an illegal 19th century slave-trading post in the Brazilian rainforest.
February 17 – Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela, by Thomas Allen Harris, in which the director explores the life of the man who raised him, B. Pule Leinaeng (“Lee”). Along with other members of the African National Congress, they led lives of exile in their fight to free South Africa. Below, Harris talks about the film, which aired originally on the PBS series POV:
That film will be followed by Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich’s surrealist short Spit on the Broom, tellimg the story of the United Order of Tents, a secret sisterhood of black women organized in the 1840s during the height of the Underground Railroad.
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