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28 January 2010 @ 08:59 am
Great Zimbabwe; Pre-Great War Britain  
Two contrasting TV programmes last night. Started off with the third episode of Lost Kingdoms of Africa which was all about Great Zimbabwe. As with Ethiopia my initial knowledge was sparse to say that least - all I knew about Zimbabwe was that it used to be Rhodesia, used to be ruled by the British, and both the British and their successors have behaved badly at various points. The programme started by showing us the ruins of the city of Great Zimbabwe - an impressive stone structure in the south of modern Zimbabwe, that the first European colonists thought couldn't've been built by Africans (it was, obviously enough). Then off to the Swahili coast to look at the ruins of a couple of port cities there - where trade from India, China and the Middle East came in. And then to Mozambique and another city on the trade route between Great Zimbabwe & the outer world, before a closer look at the city of Great Zimbabwe itself. Basically about a thousand years ago there was a large, complex & flourishing civilisation in southern Africa that exported gold from Zimbabwe out to India, China & the Middle East, and imported all sorts of luxury goods. But it all seems to've died out before the first Europeans made it there (with their racist little notions - shame, it might've short-circuited some of the later idiocy). Interesting programme, but somehow didn't actually tell us much - just a bit of the surface level, enough to whet the appetite but that was all. Like, do we know why it died out? Do we know much about the people other than their city & the signs of their trade?

Next we watched one of the Andrew Marr programmes on The Making of Modern Britain. We'd watched the first one a while ago, so started last night with the 2nd in the series, which covered about 10 years of immediate pre-Great War Britain. A weird mix of stuff I knew without knowing I knew (like I suddenly remembered the suffragette who flung herself under the King's horse at the races, just before we got to the point), and stuff I never knew about (how close to civil war the country was over the question of Home Rule for Ireland and the dockyard strikes which also sounded like they were going to kick off into revolution along the lines of the revolutions happening in Russia at the time). I like Andrew Marr's sense of humour, so despite the grim nature of the events he was talking about I spent quite a bit of it laughing. Both at the sarcastic little asides, and the mimicking of accents. Bit depressing to end the evening on though, as it finished with WWI kicking off despite all efforts to keep it from coming to that. Although you didn't half get the impression that the war had saved the country from tearing itself to pieces.
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Hapi vace! Hapi vace!keirf on January 28th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer to 'The Making of Modern Britain' - I've been watching it on YouTube, and it's very good.
Margaretpling on January 28th, 2010 10:41 am (UTC)
There's also an earlier series he did that covers Britain from post-World War II through till roughly the present - A History of Modern Britain :)
John: thoughtfuljarel on January 28th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
If you're interested in more detail, he's written a book to accompany each series, too.