African Apocalypse – Streaming on BFI Player

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor

African Apocalypse at HOME Manchester, Manchester and online, 18 December 2020–31 March 2021, from £10 - Book now

Documentarian Rob Lemkin’s African Apocalypse sees British-Nigerian, poet and activist Femi Nylander journey from the libraries of Oxford University to Niger in order to follow the path of terror and genocide tread by French Captain Paul Voulet in 1898. Nylander takes Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a jumping off point, finding in Voulet a real-life version of the novella’s mythic ivory trader Mr. Kurtz. He arrives in Niger, and checks in to a hotel full of white business men, before embarking upon a journey along The National Road — a highway following Voulet’s massacres, created by felling ancient and sacred baobab trees.

Visiting towns along the road, Nylander finds abiding anger, and people eager to talk about atrocities they are seldom asked about. He encounters uranium miners exploited and endangered by French companies, and forced to supply the product of their labour tax-free until 2014. While one in three lightbulbs in France are powered by Nigerien uranium, much of Niger copes with little electricity. The people Nylander encounters are quick to make the link between the Voulet’s indiscriminate killing and the continuing exploitation at the hands of the French. The colonialist is a compulsory subject within Niger schools, but less famous than Conrad’s mythic villain in the West.

Nylander tracks Voulet’s journey to his grave and in doing so is forced to reckon with his own identity. “Because I am English, I may as well be white.” he observes of the reaction of Nigeriens at one point early on. Nylander was raised in Bolton and he was a demographic outsider at Oxford, and yet in Niger, his identity means that he requires an armed guard in order to travel safely. African Apocalypse functions as an educational corrective and also a brave and fascinating repurposing of Conrad, but it is in the autobiographical elements that it is at its most extraordinary, as Nylander lays himself bare as he struggles to grapple with the sheer weight and complexity of generational trauma.

African Apocalypse at HOME Manchester, Manchester and online

18 December 2020–31 March 2021
From £10

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Music Until 16 February 2023, from £9.50

Donna Candy at SOUP

vegan super club
Activity Until 17 February 2023, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Exhibitions Until 18 February 2023, FREE

The Confessional at HOME

Queer Contact 2023
Comedy Until 18 February 2023,

Queer Contact Festival 2023

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME
Festivals Until 18 February 2023,

PUSH Festival 2023 at HOME

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside
Families Until 19 February 2023, from £14.00

The Singing Mermaid at Waterside CANCELLED

Activity Until 25 February 2023, from £13

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Tour

Fairy Tales at Z-Arts
Families Until 26 February 2023, from £3.00

Fairy Tales at Z-arts

Activity Until 6 March 2023, from £6.00

Shake it off: Music Video Dance Class with Girl Gang

Exhibitions Until 6 March 2023, FREE

Screen Time at KERB

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre
Families Until 11 March 2023, from £20.00

The Lion King at the Palace Theatre

Childrens Until 18 March 2023, FREE

Outdoor Art Club at The Whitworth