Film in the Education of Colonial Peoples

In a 1947 study of the emergence of educational film in Great Britain, the authors drew attention to the potential for educational film to be deployed in the service of colonialism.

They noted the inauguration of the Colonial Film Unit in 1939 "when an official from the Colonial Service in Nigeria was given the task of organising the production of films suitable for illiterate Africans", as well as a monthly bulletin, Colonial Cinema.

Cameras were sent out to Kenya, Tanganika [sic], Uganda, Bamgia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria, and "An African musician has been appointed to the staff of the Unit to develop African music for film purposes." But the more significant problem involved projection, which was still substantially mobile at this time.

The Advisory Committee on Education of the Colonies reported in 1943 that "The extent to which the cinema may be used in mass education is obviously very great. It is mobile, it can cater for large audiences, an unlimited number of copies of a film can be produced, and colonial peoples are as much attracted by it as are any others."

Source: The Arts Enquiry, The Factual Film: A Survey, Oxford University Press, 1947

See also the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment, funded by the Carnegie Corporation in partnership with the British Government. link

The BEKE is discussed by film scholar Aboubakar Sanogo in "Colonialism, Visuality and the Cinema".