A Journey Through Africa's Top Ten Documentaries

23 de octubre de 2023


Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of “Indomitable Africa” through the evocative medium of documentary filmmaking. Documentaries offer an illuminating window, often uncovering the raw, unscripted tales of the land, its people, and an environment that hums with life and unyielding resilience. With a continent so diversely layered in its cultures, traditions, and landscapes, Africa provides a myriad of stories waiting to be discovered, and it is through films that we are often invited to traverse its vast, vibrant terrains without leaving our seats. From the bustling markets of Marrakesh to the serene savannas of the Serengeti, documentaries weave stories that beg to be told and retold, captivating the hearts and minds of viewers across the globe.

Africa's poignant narratives, often encompassing triumph, tragedy, and tenacity, find a stirring voice in the world of documentary film. From tales of communities embracing change and overcoming adversities to stories of wildlife that transcend mere survival, African documentaries curate a blend of visual aesthetics and raw, authentic storytelling. The emergence of platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and Guidedoc has made it even more accessible for viewers worldwide to plunge into these tales, witnessing the magnificence and struggles of the African continent, where every frame is painted with the hues of undulating emotions and undisturbed wild beauty.



In the world of documentaries, Africa unyieldingly stands out as a continent that harbors narratives that are both heart-wrenching and inspiring. To explore African documentaries is to journey through a cascade of emotions, often marred by histories of colonization and struggle, yet gleaming with stories of undeterred spirit, unity, and the boundless beauty of its lands and wildlife. The documentaries presented on platforms like Netflix and YouTube transcend mere storytelling; they unveil unseen worlds, explore unheard voices, and bring to light the unexplored tales of individuals, communities, and species, crafting a tapestry that is unapologetically and indomitably African.


Exploring Top Ten Intriguing African Documentaries:



The Ivory Game

This gripping Netflix original documentary dives deep into the sinister underbelly of Africa's illicit ivory commerce. Helmed by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson, with the weight of producer Leonardo DiCaprio behind it, the documentary shines a light on the calamitous toll this trade exerts on the majestic African elephants. As we journey with undercover agents and vigilant park rangers, the film lays bare the complexities of tracking and breaking down the intricate criminal webs that stretch from the heart of Africa to bustling marketplaces in China, Vietnam, and Tanzania. More than just an exposé, "The Ivory Game" starkly portrays the brutal consequences of elephant poaching, underscored by a tapestry of corruption, avarice, and cultural demand for ivory in Asia. Yet, amidst this grim backdrop, there is a glimmer of hope—driven by intensified law enforcement efforts and widespread campaigns to raise public consciousness.



Amidst the inky shadows surrounding the ancient Ethiopian city of Harar, a lone voice pierces the silence, uttering distinct names. As the weak glint of a flashlight reveals the haunting eyes of spotted hyenas, a melancholic recitation of Elias Shagiz Adonay Tesfaye's poetry envelops the scene. His verses, brimming with themes of love, loss, and longing, lend a poignant, almost mournful tone to the stark black-and-white panorama, forging an evocative juxtaposition between man, beast, and the emotions that bind them.


My Octopus Teacher

this amazing documentary introduces viewers to a delicate friendship between filmmaker Craig Foster and an octopus in a South African kelp forest. It's a mesmerizing story that entwines humanity with the mysterious dwellers of the ocean, exploring how an emotional bond with a creature so different can reshape our perspective towards nature and existence.


Happy Today

Nestled in Kalongo, an intimate village tucked away in the heart of Acholi land in Northern Uganda, Patricia's life unfolds beneath the majestic watch of Mount Oret. Every day, amidst this imposing landscape, she immerses herself in the sacred dance of life, guiding expectant mothers through the profound intersections of pain, elation, and the miraculous act of childbirth. "Together with Woman" isn't just a phrase—it encapsulates Patricia's soulful commitment. For her, being a midwife is more than a profession; it's a heartfelt vocation, a deep-seated passion to serve and love with unbridled joy.



One of Zimbabwe's most successful films, "Neria" reflects on the societal and gender biases prevalent in many African societies. A moving narrative exploring the struggles of a widow fighting against patriarchal norms, "Neria" illuminates the stark realities women face in Zimbabwe, crafting a tale that is both intimate and universally resonant.


Under The Palaver Tree

In a small Beninese village named Guimbereru, time is set by the sun’s path and tradition seems unchangeable. However, life has deeply changed since the Whites arrived. A gap has insidiously opened up between nearly hundred-year-old men and young people caught up in the wheel of globalization. How can one talk and understand one another? How can the history of the village be passed on before it disappears? Inoussa, a young man born in the village, embarks upon a personal quest by asking these old men under the shelter of mango trees. Speech is freed little by little and the history is revealed, in spite of misunderstandings and taboos.


No Simple Way Home

Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, hailed as the mother of South Sudan in East Africa, stands as a beacon of hope in a nation that, since its 2011 independence, has largely been marred by war. Haunted by the weighty fear that the sacrifices of her husband, John Garang de Mabior, and countless South Sudanese martyrs might have been in vain, Nyandeng finds an opportunity to usher in stability after years in exile, following a fragile peace accord. This documentary offers a profound glimpse into the resilience and heart of Africa.


Farewell to Africa

In the wake of a heart-wrenching discovery in 2009, where the lifeless body of a European woman, Alice B, was found nestled amongst a dozen African migrants on a distant shore, filmmaker Pierre-Alain Meier is compelled to venture into the heart of Senegal. Flashing back to his own youth, he recalls wandering Dakar's labyrinthine streets, passionately plotting the production of his film, "Hyenas." Just like Alice, he grappled with the duality of being unmistakably foreign while yearning to immerse within the local tapestry. As Meier retraces Alice's tragic path, he introspectively navigates his own intertwined narrative, baring his soul with tender authenticity. "Farewell to Africa" emerges as an evocative odyssey, delving into the intricate, sometimes fraught bonds interlacing Europe and Francophone Africa.


The Great Green Wall

In an audacious response to the escalating challenges of desertification and climate change, the 2019 documentary unveils the journey of The Great Green Wall—an 8,000 km proposed tree line across Africa. Initiated by the African Union in 2007, this initiative aims to combat the daunting repercussions of environmental change in the Sahel region, notably soil degradation, hunger crises, and significant migrations. As we traverse countries like Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, we encounter stories of optimism and resilience juxtaposed with formidable challenges—from securing adequate funding and handling political instability to persuading local communities. Beyond mere documentation, the film stands as a compelling appeal, urging viewers to recognize and champion the importance of the Great Green Wall for Africa's future.


Moo Ya

In the heart of an enigmatic African village, Opio, a blind elder, is tethered not by his lack of sight but by the haunting memories and mysteries of his homeland. The symphony of nature and whispers of a turbulent history are his constant companions. Yet, one fateful day, an inexplicable urge compels him to venture beyond the familiar. As the narrative unfolds in this spellbinding docu-fiction, it evokes an almost otherworldly atmosphere, suggesting that perhaps the Africa we perceive is but a fraction of its profound depth. Through Opio's extraordinary journey, the film offers a glimpse into the continent's pulsating heart, where ancient tragedies still reverberate.


As we traverse through the realms of these compelling documentaries, we become silent witnesses to tales of resilience, survival, and the tenacious spirit that defines Africa. With each story, there’s an undercurrent of determination and a love for the land that seeps through every frame, narrating a story that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. In the words of the famed Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, "There is no story that is not true...", and through these films, we dive into the truth of experiences, of lives lived, and of stories untold, each resonating with the heartbeats of Africa.


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