Black Earth Rising: Learning from Tragedies and Memories in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Black Earth Rising highlights human tragedies in Rwanda and DRC

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At the onset, Black Earth Rising series is a masterpiece, capturing the complexity of human tragedies. Civil Wars, war crimes and genocides leave heavy loads, including physical, mental and spiritual scars. Black Earth Rising goes beyond that. Beyond tackling head on the issues of mental health and post traumatic syndromes (PTSD), Black Earth series challenges the views about justice for the victims, democracy in the affected nations,  and accountability of leaders and actors and protagonists.

One major question it leaves is both simple and soul searching: how human kind, supposedly the most advanced being known can suddenly slide deep into its  bestial instincts and decide to decimate other human beings? Then, how can we, humans, learn from man-created horrific tragedies, overcome the very primal instincts, and make the world better.

The story in the series takes a stage in the African country of Rwanda. From 1990, Rwanda was rocked by a bloody civil war that culminated in a genocide in 1994, following the assassination of the Rwandan president. According to estimates by several sources, the Rwandan genocide claimed close to a million people from the 2 main ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi.

In the years that followed the genocide and war crimes spilled over in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), then known as Zaire, where it claimed 6 millions lives, mostly Congolese civilians and Rwandan refugees. Most of those killed in the DRC were children and women.

The series evolved around the tragedies in the 2 countries, with the characters based on the main actors of the tragedy, including the current leaders of Rwanda. At the end, the series left a burning question: why do African leaders cling onto power,
instead of learning from the tragedies and using the power to heal both their people and then move on, leaving a reconciled nation, ready to face challenges that other developing and developed countries have managed to overcome.

Black Earth Rising series is a co-production between BBC and Netflix.  It is available on NetFlix. Michaela Ewuraba Boakye-Collinson plays the main character.