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Lost Kingdom of Africa

Four-part series in which British art historian Dr Gus Casely-Hayford explores the pre-colonial history of some of Africa’s most important kingdoms. The African continent is home to nearly a billion people. It has an incredible diversity of communities and cultures, yet we know less of its history than almost anywhere else on earth.

But that is beginning to change. In the last few decades, researchers and archaeologists have begun to uncover a range of histories as impressive and extraordinary as anywhere else in the world.

The series reveals that Africa’s stories are preserved for us in its treasures, statues and ancient buildings - in the culture, art and legends of the people.

The first episode looks at Nubia, in what is now northern Sudan, a kingdom that dominated a vast area of the eastern Sahara for thousands of years. Its people were described as barbarians and mercenaries, and yet Nubia has left us with some of the most spectacular monuments in the world.

Casely-Hayford traces the origins of this fascinating kingdom back to 10,000 BC. He explores how it developed and what happened to it and its people, discovering that its kings once ruled Ancient Egypt and that it was defeated not by its rivals but by its environment.

Season 2

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Emperor Haile Selassie I visiting the United Kingdom on October 14, 1954; since leaving for Ethiopia in 1941. The Emperor originally arrived in Portsmouth on the cruiser the Gambia, and was welcomed by the Duke of Gloucester. He later took a train to London where he met with the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother. Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the Emperor when she stated,

“We greet you as the Sovereign of an ancient Christian State which has many links with our own Church and…as the Sovereign of the country which was the first to regain its freedom during the last war.”

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On this day August 27, 1975: Haile Selassie I, (former) Emperor of Ethiopia dies

Hailed during his reign as the man who stood for his country against the invasion by Mussolini’s Italy, Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was very much revered in the eyes of many people around the world. The Emperor ruled in an absolute monarchy with the help of the elite in the country as well as the Coptic Church; he operated by the means of memory, and even in his old age did not make plans on settling down.

Revolutionary activities in 1974 saw the demise of the Emperor; protests from student groups, teachers asking for better wage, and taxi drivers slowly built momentum for some faction of the armed forces (the Derg) to build resistance against the government and the Emperor.

The Derg, also known as the committee at first were loyal to the emperor, but quickly turned on him. On 11th of September, 1974, several female members of the Emperor’s family were jailed; on the same day, the Emperor himself was questioned by the Derg. The following day, the Emperor was dethroned, after being forced to watch the British documentary the Hidden Famine, which focused on the thousands of people who died during the farminine (which was mostly ignored by the Emperor) in Wollo in 1973. The Emperor was expelled from the Palace he once knew as his home, office, and zoo.

Emperor Haile Selassie I spent the last few months of his life imprisoned in the Grand Palace. He spent most of his time worshiping at the chapel and reading. He is believed to have died of circulatory failure; however some believe he was mothered with a wet pillow. He was buried in the palace’s lavatory, remaining there till November 2000, when he was given an imperial styled funeral, among the guests at his funeral was Rita Marley (widow of Bob Marley). Interestingly enough, the Rasatafari rejected the event.

The Derg ruled violently until 1991.