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Hopes On The Horizon HomepageSouth African students plan for change at Aha Thuto
“The ‘90s brought a breath of fresh air, as new winds of democracy were establishing themselves. That was the proof to all our African leaders that they could no longer ignore civil society.”

— Leila Rhiwi, President
Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc, Morocco


HOPES ON THE HORIZON, a new production from Blackside Inc., chronicles the rise of pro-democracy movements in six African countries during the 1990s. Premiering on PBS February 16, 2001 (check local listings), this two-hour documentary (narrated by Derrick N. Ashong, with original music by Tunde Jegede), tells the stories of the men and women who initiated, witnessed, and participated in these tumultuous changes. Through on-camera interviews and video footage of key events, viewers will follow the dramatic and often dangerous efforts to bring about fundamental changes in social structure, governance, and economic and civil rights in these countries.

The events and countries depicted in HOPES ON THE HORIZON represent a trend that swept across the continent of Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. A new generation of Africans established a voice for themselves. These new leaders renewed the struggle for democracy that had been building throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as many African countries succeeded in throwing off their colonial rulers. In many nations, the governments that formed in the decades after independence were single-party dictatorships. Pro-democracy movements, which had been steadily growing, gained more support as opposition to dictatorships, corruption, and military rule strengthened and national economies weakened.

In the last decades of this century, pro-democracy leaders directed their attention not only at the legacies of colonial domination, but also at an older generation of African leaders who were perceived as having “let down” their descendants in the struggle for democracy. By the late 1980s, individuals and groups in a number of African countries began to assert their rights to own land, be represented in government, educate their children, change economic structures, document their history, and gain equal rights for women and ethnic minorities.