African Queens: Njinga is a historical documentary series that was released on Netflix in 2023. The series has 4 episodes, each having a run time of 44 to 48 minutes. It is executively produced and narrated by Jada Pinkett Smith and contains gore and violence. Since it’s Black History Month, this docuseries is a perfect launch for everyone acknowledging it.
African Queens: Njinga tells the story of a Njinga, who was the 17th-century ruler of Ndongo and Matamba (which is now known as Angola). Queen Njinga was known to be a fearless woman. The western African kingdoms were colonized by the Portuguese and this series is the inspiring story of how Queen Njinga fought the colonizers. The story is re-enacted by actors and delivered to the audience with the help of a few narrations and the majority of dialogues.
Adesuwa Oni (Njinga), Thabo Rametsi (Kasa), Chipo Kureya, Marilyn Nnadebe, and others are cast in this series. The story is told in a dramatized way and we see how the warrior queen rises to power after clearing all the obstacles in her way. She helped to maintain the nation and its independence and rose to become the only queen who was acknowledged by the colonizers. Even though the story is inspiring and authentic, the way it was executed was not in the best form. If we compare the enacted scenes to other movies or series it is easily noticeable that those works have done a better job than this one. Be it the emotional scenes or the scenes which show thrilling battle sequences, everything just seems mediocre decreasing the vibe of the entire series. But fortunately, the series has done better in various other aspects.
This documentary sheds light on deeper facts about the Queen and her rule. For example- It must be a piece of common knowledge to people interested in African history that Queen Njinga rose to power mainly after her brother’s death. But the circumstance of his death might not be clear to everyone. This series takes us deep into such tiny details giving us an overall knowledge about the queen and also about her then surroundings. The series also includes interviews with renowned historians who keenly provides historical contexts for the events depicted in the scenes. Cecile Fromont (Professor at Yale University), Luke Pepera (an anthropologist), Olivette Otele (professor at the University of London), and many others are the featured historians. The documentary has done an excellent job of spitting facts about the queen and the politics she had to play to stay in power.
Even though the docuseries has only 4 episodes, it is more than informative and has a detailed pattern. The story is something that the audience will be able to grasp without much difficulty. There are certain extremely violent scenes that might not be advisable for younger audiences to watch but other than this, the docuseries is perfect for anyone and especially someone who likes historical content.
The documentary was able to bring out a human side of the queen. Although it showed her fierce side of her, it also equally showed how much care she had for her country, her people, and also her family. This 17th-century warrior Queen will take over your heart with her chronicles. Watch this 4-part series to learn more about her political, diplomatic, and fierce skills.
Final Score – [7.5/10]
Reviewed by - Poornima Balsu
Follow @BalsuPoornima on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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