Behind the Scenes



Gate's Diary

Culture Close-up

Retelling the Story

What is Africa to Me

The Africa Shop

Behind the Scenes: Feedback

Here are what some viewers are saying about the "Wonders of the African World with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." television program and Web site.

"Professor Gates is to be commended. This program should be advanced as an realistic alternative to the networks dismissal of people of color in it's programming. Black intellectuals in this country should be writing to local public broadcasting stations nationally and the programs sponsors to enthuisically document our support of this program... and ask how can we continue this effort."
James Davis

"This was one of the most informative documentaries I've ever seen. I was amazed at the history of Africa and its people. I was never taught in school and my children now are not taught in any detail of Africa. This documentary is a major mile stone and I will personally endorse getting this information out to the community. Thank you very much."
Samantha Thompson
Denver, Colorado

"Kudos to Dr Gates for a most memorable and quite educational documentary. Thank you Dr Gates for the most educational and enjoyable history lesson I have ever sat through. And for the thoughtful and interesting conversations the documentary has sparked in my office."
Barbara M. Chambers
Brooklyn, NY

"While I enjoyed the informative aspects of the series, I found Dr. Gates' attitude of Good African/Evil European quite disturbing. People of every race/religion and culture have been both oppressors and oppressed. Many European, Middle-eastern and Asian peoples have suffered terribly at the hands of others- usually those with superior technology. Many still suffer. It is important to remember that it was a minority of Europeans who were involved in the slave trade. Yet Dr. Gates' attitude, especially because of his high standing in the scholarly community, perpetuates the hatred of all people with white skin. This only adds to the division among the world's diverse population. Anthropologists agreee that the entire human race was born in Africa. She is mother to all peoples, not just those with dark skin. According to recent findings, we all share the DNA of one pre-human female ancestor. Racism is a terrible evil. We must work hard to eradicate it from our world. Only then can we live in peace with our human brothers and sisters. Only then can we appreciate the wonders of every culture in our human family."
Mary Triola
Fredericksburg, VA

"Bravo! Excellent! I especially like the learn to speak bantu/swahili page."

Dr. Gates, Your insights into Africa are truly appreciated. As a Chicano who thinks about Mexico and its significance to us "pochos", I see many parallels -- the romanticism, from anglo scolars as well as chicano nationalists, toward preconquest history are not always based on fact. you go far to dispell these myths and revise the incredible history of Africa. so many beautiful locations and most are away from the typical thought of Egypt. Your sincerety and love towards a continent was apparent and seemed real. Thank you. I really hope you get to read this. I'm an artist who is always thinking about these issues in my art. Of course my perspective is towards Los Angeles/Mexico and Aztlan but I think you can see that your frameworks provide applicability towards other experiences. I'm glad I was around to see this."
Jose Ramirez
East Los Angeles, CA

"I wathed 3 nights of Professor's Gates travels through Africa and I was amazed and thrilled to be of African American decent with a real history!!! Thank you all for making those adventures come to life with so much personal interaction. How do I purchases the videos?? Thank you PBS and thank you Prof. Gates. ps. He had just the right amount of personal inrigue to make it exciting for all 3 nights!! I just wished this part of our Black history were taught in American schools."
Sharon Redd Anderson
Los Angeles, CA

"This is Amde originally from Africa (Ethiopia) and one of founders of the Ethiopian Professionals Association Network (EPAN) at and the owner of and Few days a go I received an e-mail from one of our member about this site. I visited and I was so trilled by its content. Yesterday, I had a chance to watch the Dr. Gates documentary about Africa (Ethiopia). It was one of the best. I have seen several programs about the Ark of the Covenant but your program was a blast. I believe that program should be added part of archives for colleges, universities and museums around the world. Behalf of Ethiopian Professional Association Network I salute the entire crew who brought such a marvelous work to the world. Keep up the good job. Thank you."
Amdework Mitiku
San Diego, CA

"I am a direct descendant of Don Francisco "Chacha" de Souza of Ouidah, my father's birthplace. I tuned on to your program after I received a telephone call from a friend who was viewing the series. I took my African-American husband and our son to Ouidah for the first time last year. It was an emotionally charged trip, as I, the descendant of a notorious slave trader, was taking my husband, descendant of slaves, to walk that long path from the auction tree to the shore where millions of slaves embarked. Besides the personal interest I had in this segment of your program, I was happy to see the culture of the great kings of Dahomey given its rightful exposure and to see all the innaccurate myths about vodoun dismissed. Hopefully this program has put Benin (ex-Dahomey) on the map for a lot of people who don't even know of its existence, even less of its location. Perhaps, thanks to your program, I won't have to do as much explaining to tell people where I am from."
Sylvie De Souza-Norris
New York, NY

"Thank you for this show. I am a white woman whose knowledge of African culture was nonexistent. Having Dr. Gates as the "leader' of the expedition was a stroke of genius. His comments and reactions to what he learned on his journey added so much to the program. Learning about the cultures of Africa and in particular the university at Timbuktu made me angry at the White people for denying the Africans their rightful place in the worlds history of outstanding cultures. I would like to see this series be part of every World History/Cultures curriculum in the U.S. I also found it enlightening to learn how many of the African leaders were involved in selling slaves to the rest of the world. The conversations that Dr. Gates had with those decendants trying to justify these actions was interesting and quite revealing. PBS is my favorite TV station but it is rare that I get so involved in a program that I stay up past my usual bedtime. But this is one I would not have wanted to miss."
Richmond VA

"I have been concerned with the controversy between Dr. Gates and those who feel that he represents a distorted view of Africa. There are many who feel that Dr. Gates is an extension of the white world that created and continues to perpetuate racist views of Africa and its people... Maybe unintentionally, but the impression given was that Dr. Gates was trying to affirm the views held by some whites that blacks were as responsible for slavery as whites. In many ways the series presented and supported the many views of his critics. Admittedly, Gates is not a African historian, therefore, his views tend to reflect those who were externally educated by the white world. In his commentary he could have explored the controversy regarding how and when North Africa became light skinned and separated from what is called black Africa. Because he did not address the so-called prehistory of Africa, he missed an important opportunity to educate the world. Dr. Gates' prominence in the academic world offers him an opportunity and a responsibility to tell the whole story. Good luck next time Dr. Gates. I'll be waiting for the rest of the story."
Earl Shepherd
Hartford, Connecticut

"This is to thank Professor Gates for his thrilling program on the history of pre 1600 Africa, from a nice little old Jewish Lady!!!!"
S. Troy

"Thank you Dr. Gates for a most informative and wonderous journey. One of the most educational and visual experiences I have ever had from PBS. Dr. Gates is a joy to watch as he treks all over Africa. I was educated as never before about this beautiful continent and it's beautiful people. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Perry Cradin
Howard Beach, NY

"This is the best documentary produced about the rich african history and heritage. I am of East Indian origin, but born in East Africa and after watching the coast swahili part of the documentary i really got home-sick. Thank You."
Vinod Vyas
Ottawa, Canada