Illustration of Knights for the Mali and Songhai empires
I spent part of my day re-watching last season's episodes of Game Of Thrones
ahead of season 3's premiere this Sunday night, to reacquaint myself with the series.
And, as I watched, it hit me: I could envision a Game Of Thrones-like fantasy TV series (likely on cable TV as well), but instead of being set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, created by author George R. R. Martin, the many stories would unfold within the several African kingdoms that ruled the pre-colonial continent, before the so-called "Scramble for Africa" in the late 1800s.
And I'm not even referring to those ancient BC empires of Egypt; we don't have to go that far into the past. Between the 1400s and the 1800s there were a number of kingdoms/empires/dynasties that ruled all over Africa - like the Saadi dynasty in Morocco, to the Sultanate of Sennar in Sudan, and the Ethiopian dynasties in the east, to the Oyo, Benin and Ashanti empires all in West Africa, to the Mutapa empire and Zulu kingdom in the south, and so on.
Each of them with their own different clans or lineages, operating under different sets of regulations, whether despotic, or more democratic, ruled by a single king with omnipotent power, or regulated by a collective of elder statesmen - and almost everything else between, with multi-national parts, varied populations and polities, all often existing under a single entity, usually via conquest.
Many of these empires/kingdoms/dynasties existed simultaneously - as contemporaries - but in different parts of the continent.
The story possibilities are endless - like Game Of Thrones, a plethora of characters scattered throughout lands, interweaving several different plot lines, following members of the many noble tribes, the threats of invasion and conquest by other empires, the various interior battles and schemes within each dynasty, all chasing control of the throne; the mythologies, the folklore, the morally ambiguous characters, exploring issues of social hierarchy, religion, civil war, sexuality, crime and punishment, and much more.
It's all there, ripe for the picking - or I should say, filming!
The series doesn't necessarily have to be entirely based on real-life stories. The settings, characters and plot elements could all be inspired by historical accounts, but don't have to be entirely factual.
The stories and characters in Game Of Thrones are inspired by a very broad range of periods in European history; and the same could be done here. It'll be a fantasy series after all, so there'll be some otherworldly, fantastical elements included, which won't be in the history books.
Although I'm certainly not arguing against a series that is based entirely on historical fact either.
I'd just love to see something like this done for the screen, and of course with a similar budget, level of production values and talent (both in front of and behind the camera), etc, and released on a premium cable TV channel as an ongoing series, like Game Of Thrones.
I'd like to believe it would sell, and audiences would watch (and not just black audiences); but given that nothing like this has ever been attempted before, it's a risk that I doubt most with the resources to make something like this a reality, would be willing to take.
Just a quick thought that came to me; maybe someone will run with it... maybe not. Maybe it's already happened, or is about to happen, and I'm just unaware. If you know something I don't know, do share...