Sanders of the River (film #26 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This British film is essentially a celebration of imperialism. Sanders is a British civil servant in Nigeria who keeps peace among warring tribes by ruling with an iron fist. Paul Robeson plays a chief who gains power by sucking up to Sanders at every turn, while spending his spare time singing songs that owe more to American popular music than to African tribal music. Granted, Sanders is portrayed as a just leader who stops slave trading and war mongering, but the film seems to imply that this is because he is white and British. The natives are referred to many times as “black children” of the British overlords and they are portrayed as thoroughly unable to govern themselves. The politics of the film makes you want to throw up, but it does have many authentic scenes of African tribal dances and rituals, which gives it some historical interest. It’s incredibly slow-moving, though.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

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