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Video Description

Benin

    The ancient city of Benin gives us an aesthetic example of the relation between a king and his city. A uniquely African piece of art shows the king at the center of the city and the universe. This conveys the power and mystery inherent in the role of king. The Dutch who visited this city in 1400 AD described it as having polished houses, 30 main streets, good police, and offering the same friendship to visitors as to each other. They specifically said it was not inferior. The king had great power in context with his council. European visitors would offer the king gifts and request trade permits. 

 



Kano

    The city of Kano lies in Hausaland, in the area of present day Nigeria. There were a number of small villages on the hillside. Early kings tried to extend their power like they did in feudal Europe, and Kano arose as the most powerful village. A huge palace was built in the 15th century. The king lived there surrounded by immense mystery. But, his existence was dependent on his council, which existed to advise the king on all matters and to limit his power. Many of the king's various 'slaves' were given some decisive influence and direct access to the king. In ancient Kano, Bori was the indigenous religion. But, in 1300 AD Muslims brought Islam and its influence into Kano. In 1500, the King asked Almingili to come and advise him because the city's power and wealth grew. His advice centered on improved justice and the expansion of Islam in the king's leadership. African kingdoms were advanced from Europe in terms of the checks and balances in them. A constitution was also created for the government and its people. However, the king did still govern the surrounding villages and their trade; therefore, he also exploited this trade. The farming villages around Kano were unusually fertile and produced much cotton, corn, and grain, making the villages and in turn the kingdom very wealthy. 

Source: http://dickinsg.intrasun.tcnj.edu/films/basil/video4.html

Documentary Description

Africa: A Voyage of Discovery with Basil Davidson is a critically acclaimed informative series describing the history of Africa. The eight-hour series was produced in 1984. it is broken up into eight sections on four videos. Each section is 57 minutes long. Basil Davidson uses various resources. Davidson usually speaks as location footage of Africa is shown. From time to time, he makes an appearance in the videos. Also shown are archived media and dramatic reconstructions. The eight sections are listed below with subsections that we have created from notes.

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