Stories behind the film

“African Apocalypse has been 7 years in the making and our research has taken us across Niger exposing not only the dark heart of colonialism, but reflecting on how its long shadow continues to affect lives today. The film touches on so many issues, you can read more here”


Digging into the archives, finding the Voices of the People of Niger

By Rob Lemkin: The oral history and official archives detailing Voulet's mission, in danger of being lost to history and covered up by the colonial powers. Our film brings centre-stage for the first time the collective oral history of the colonisation of Niger as it lives on in the hearts and minds of Nigeriens today. But we also made considerable use of written records, or at least what survives, of [...]

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Kurtz

By Rob Lemkin: Joseph Conrad's visceral critique of colonial power rooted in fact, not fiction and still causing controversy today Heart of Darkness is one of the most widely read and discussed classics of English literature. It ranks among fiction’s most searing critiques of imperialism while also coming under strong criticism itself for being racist. It shone a light on colonial atrocity when empire was the primary  source of wealth [...]

The trail, the road and how the colonial powers agreed Niger’s border

By Femi Nylander: 2 years after Voulet, men, women and children were marched at gunpoint to serve as labour teams to build the road. Women and children hauled buckets of laterite rock from the bush; men pounded the material and levelled it into the road. Paul Voulet was making his way through territory that Europeans had not yet fully mapped. With an expeditionary force of 2000 people, he needed always [...]

The grave of Voulet – still dominating the local community

By Rob Lemkin: The enduring legacy of colonialism is in the communities still left behind, and the young people forced to leave The dusty town of May Jirgui lies just off Niger’s main highway, Route Nationale 1, over 500 miles to the east of the capital Niamey. It’s no different from hundreds of other towns and villages across this country. Except for one thing: it’s the site of the grave [...]

Light at the end of a dark colonial tunnel

By Femi Nylander: Niger was home to the world's first solar powered machine, an advance ignored in the West's rush for the country's Uranium resource It is the paradox of Niger that despite its dark colonial history it is one of the sunniest countries in the world. In the 1960s in the years after colonial rule it was a global pioneer in solar energy research. It set up the Solar Energy [...]

The legacy of colonialism: the shadow of French Uranium mines

By Femi Nylander: As recently as 2014 Niger was receiving uranium royalties that were half the sums paid to Australia and Canada for their equivalent uranium reserves. Niger achieved independence from France in 1960 but one of the conditions for that independence was a Defence Treaty that gave France priority access to strategic material deemed crucial for France’s security. These materials included principally uranium which had been discovered under the Sahara in [...]

The recorded historical testimony of a woman abducted by Voulet in 1899

By Rob Lemkin: Eye witness testimony: one of 800 women abducted by Voulet in 1899 and interviewed in 1970. It took 2 years to track down and rescue the recording Voulet’s mission held around 800 women captive at any one time in its progress across Niger. These women became slaves allocated to French officers and African auxiliaries for sexual and domestic services. Voulet himself is reported to have spent the [...]

Where empires set foot atrocities followed

By Femi Nylander: Just as Voulet’s column moved through Niger, in other parts of Africa (as well as other parts of the world) colonialists were equally engaged in atrocity throughout the 19th and early 20th century. As we see in African Apocalypse, the impact continues to shape lives today. 1885, Congo (Congo Free State, Belgian Congo) - state sponsored policy killing millions still not accepted as genocide From 1885 [...]


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