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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:John Wayne on the Zambezi: Cinema, Empire, and the American Western in British Central Africa
Author:Burns, James
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic terms:Rhodesia and Nyasaland
Great Britain
History and Exploration
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Architecture and the Arts
Equality and Liberation
bibliographies (form)
Abstract:Since the First World War, mine-owners in British Central Africa (present-day Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi) had organized film screenings to lure workers to their compounds. American Westerns (referred to locally as 'cowboy' movies) became the most popular films and were so widely shown that, by the end of the Second World War, for many African moviegoers the 'cowboy' and the cinema had become synonymous. Official acceptance of the cowboy film came into question after the Second World War, as white observers began worrying that these films posed a danger to public order. Many educated Africans echoed these fears, and began lobbying the government to ban the showing of Westerns. A vigorous debate ensued about the influence of cowboy movies on Africans, which culminated in the appointment of a federal committee in 1959 to investigate the influence of the cinema, and in particular American Westerns, on African audiences, and to consider whether film censorship in the Federation should be based on nonracial principles. As this debate raged over their heads, African audiences continued to frequent cowboy pictures, resisting all efforts to manipulate their tastes. The Western remains popular in the region today. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]