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Lupita Nyong'o and John Boyega to Narrate Upcoming Wildlife Series 'Serengeti'

Cool or cliché?

Discovery and BBC Studios new natural history series Serengeti is in on its way and none other than two of the biggest actors of African descent are set to narrate it.

Lupita Nyong'o and John Boyega, who will soon reprise their roles in Star Wars: Episode IX, are set to narrate the U.S. and UK versions of the series, respectively, according to a Deadline report. The dramatized series will follow the lives of several species of wildlife in the famous region of northern Tanzania.


Here's a synopsis of the series via Deadline:

The six-part series, which is set to air later this year on BBC One and Discovery Channel, follows the interconnected stories of a cast of savannah animals over one year, in a bold new format. From warthogs to lions, mongoose to cheetahs, a cast of our favourite African animal characters will be filmed closer and more intimately than ever before, using groundbreaking filming techniques and pioneering technology, including drone technology and the use of multiple stabilised camera systems.

While we're willing to give the series a chance, based off the strength of the talent involved, we can't help but notice that it comes off at least slightly cliché to have two actors from the continent narrate a documentary about African wildlife.

Nonetheless, Nyong'o has shared her excitement over the upcoming project, calling it a "stunning and unique testament to a place that I have always loved."

"These beautiful creatures' stories are universal," she told Deadline. "And I am honored to help take the audience on their journey."

The series, produced by American Idol creator Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment and John Downer Productions, will premiere later this year. We'll share further details as we learn more.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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