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20 Must-See Movies Set In Africa

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

Are you dreaming of traveling to the world's second-largest continent with a rich culture and beautiful scenery? This post will not focus on the rich African cinematic history but provides a selection of movies set in Africa to keep you entertain and inspire while planning your next trip to the continent, also known as the 'cradle of humankind.'

the first grader

A story of determination and will power. It is the real story of Kimani Maruge, an 84-year-old Kenyan farmer that enrolled in elementary school in 2003 after the Kenyan government announced that education would be free for all.


It's a musical movie set in Soweto in South Africa starring actress Leleti Khumalo as Sarafina and her favorite teacher (Whoopi Goldberg). It is amazing movie. It tells the story of brave students who stood against the oppressive apartheid system in the 1976 Soweto uprising.

Most songs in the movie are in Zulu, but you can find the songs' meaning in English online.

The movie is based on the real-life story of William Kamkwamba. He is from Malawi, and as a young boy, he helped his community by harnessing the wind. It is an uplifting film.

It's a documentary following 4 retired Sudanese filmmakers attempting to revive cinema in Sudan.

hotel Rwanda

It is taking place during the civil war in Rwanda. Starring Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who houses over 1000 Tutsi refugees. In the movie, his wife Tatiana is portrayed by actress Sophie Okonedo. When visiting Kigali make sure to check out the actual hotel called hôtel des Mille Collines

queen of Katwe

This movie is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young Ugandan chess player from kwate, one of Kampala's slums. The movie follows her journey and how chess changed her life. She is portrayed by young actress Madina Nalwanga and, her mum is portrayed by actress Lupita Nyong'o.

Half of a yellow sun

It's the story of 2 sisters in Nigeria and how their lives were forever changed due to the civil war in the 1960s. The sisters are portrayed by actress Thandie Newton as Olanna and Anika Noni Rose as Kainene, and Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as Odenigbo. The movie is based on a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


It is a 7 Academy Awards winner epic romance movie. Meryl Streep & Robert Redford are the main characters, and the story is set during Kenya's colonial time. While in Kenya, make sure to check out Angama Mara camp for an out of Africa experience. It is located in the very spot immortalized by the film poster.

The United Kingdom

The movie is starring David Oyelo as Prince Seretse Khama and Rosamund Pike as his wife, Ruth Williams Khama. It is based on the heir's true story to the throne of Bechuanaland( Botswana) and his romance while completing his studies in London. It's a story of resilience and post WWII romance.

check the documentary from the BBC about their true story here

Nowhere in Africa

It is the story of a German Jewish family fleeing to Kenya in the 1930s to escape the Nazis. It is based on the autobiographical novel Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) by Stefanie Zweig. The book was a bestseller in Germany and has been translated into 15 languages.The movie won the Oscar for the best foreign language film in 2003.

The Color of Freedom

It is the true story of Nelson Mandela and James Gregory, his prison warden. It is starring Dennis Haysbert as Mandela and Joseph Fiennes as James Gregory, who was assigned to guard the Nelson Mandela on Robben Island until his release in early 1990


It is a true story starring actress Sophie Okonedo as Sandra Laing.

Although born to white parents, Sandra Laing, a South African woman, as a result of her features, was classified as black by authorities during the apartheid in the 1950s even though DNA evidence confirm she was indeed her parent's biological child.You can watch a documentary about her here

The last king of Scotland

Starring Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, James Mc Avoy (the Ugandan dictator doctor) and Kerry Washington. The movie is based on Giles Foden's novel and gives an insight into the brutal Idi Amin ruling in the 1970s


Starring Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, the movie is based on Nelson Mandela's autobiographical book.

The 1984 Greystoke Tarzan movie was filmed in Korup National Park in western Cameroon. This 2016 Tarzan was filmed in Gabon and England.

If you want a movie that sends you straight to the jungle of Africa and with lots of actions, that is the movie for you.

This action movie filmed in Mozambique and South Africa has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards. It sets during the 1990s civil war in Sierra Leone and tells the brutal African diamond trade story.

The Constant Gardener

This movie was filmed in Kenya.Starring Rachel Weisz as The activist wife Tessa, British diplomat Justin Quayle portrayed by actor Ralph Fiennes. It is based on Author John le Carré's novel of the same name. His wife is murdered, and he is plunged into a dangerous quest to find the truth behind her death n and "finish her work.


It is an animated documentary film about 10 Swaziland orphans who collaborate to create a folktale about heroine Liyana.

Fig Tree

Fig Tree

It is the semi-autobiographical debut film of Ethiopian writer-director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian. It recounts her experience fleeing her homeland during the civil war as a teenager. The movie was set in Addis Abeba in 1989

Live and become

Live and become

It is the story of an Ethiopian boy separated from his mother in a Sudanese refugee camp, who is airlifted from to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. It was filmed in Ethiopia.

I hope you like this odyssey of entertaining movies set in Africa. Don’t forget to check THIS POST for Classic African movies made by African film directors.

Have you jetted off to one of the African countries mentioned in the movies listed above? Tell our readers and us your favorite in the comments below.


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