Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment

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The Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment (BEKE) was a project of the International Missionary Council in coordination with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and British colonial governments of Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the mid-1930s.[1] The project aim was that of realizing educational films to be played by mobile cinemas for the education of the black ("bantu") people. About 35 such films, on 16mm, were produced between 1935 and 1937, when the project's Carnegie grant expired. The project was led by J. Merle Davis, director of the International Missionary Council's Department of Social and Industrial Research; George Chitty Latham, former head of Northern Rhodesia's Education Department; and Major Leslie Allen Notcutt, a former plantation manager in Kenya.

BEKE productions were silent, low quality films with naive plots that usually involved a "wise guy" (giving the good example) prevailing over a "stupid guy" (impersonating bad habits). While some actors were black, everything else in the production was British, building on a stereotypical representation of Africa and Africans. The main teachings conveyed by the films were about hygienical rules, methods of cash crop cultivation and cooperative marketing, and "prestige films" that highlighted the institutions of British rule. Only three of the BEKE films survive and are held at the British Film Institute Archives: "Veterinary Training of African Natives" (1936),[2] "Tropical Hookworm" (1936),[3] and "African Peasant Farms - the Kingolwira Experiment" (1936).[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Notcutt, L.A. and G.C. Latham, The African and the Cinema : An Account of the Work of the Bantu Educational Cinema Experiment during the Period March 1935 to May 1937 (London: Edinburgh House Press, 1937).
  2. ^ Colonial Film, Moving Images of the British Empire link to film
  3. ^ Colonial Film, Moving Images of the British Empire link to film
  4. ^ Colonial Film, Moving Images of the British Empire link to film

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