Best African Movies on Netflix – We reveal the best African movies on Netflix for 2021, with film across genres like comedy and thriller, and from countries like Ghana, South Africa etc.
The beauty of Netflix is that no matter what kind of film you’re looking for, the streaming service has a massive variety in each different genre to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for something uplifting, a comedy that will leave you in stitches or a kid-friendly movie the whole family can enjoy together, Netflix has it.
Netflix has heavily prioritized international growth lately—including in Africa. While Netflix’s African content isn’t as prodigious as its content for regions like East Asia and South Asia, there are still many African movies and shows on the streaming platform.
That said, what are the Best African Movies on Netflix?
2021 Best African Movies on Netflix
To help answer that question, we at Cinema Escapist have compiled this list of top African films on Netflix. These films stretch across numerous genres, including horror, drama, romance, comedy, thriller, and more.
While the majority of African movies on Netflix are from Nigeria’s Nollywood, we’ve taken care to include non-Nollywood titles as well. After all, there are also great movies on Netflix from other African countries like Ghana, South Africa, Senegal, and beyond.
Furthermore, this list is up to date for 2021; we’ve double-checked to make sure these movies are available in at least most English-speaking countries. Let’s take a look at the 11 best African movies on Netflix, current as of 2021!
Country: Ghana | Director: Kwabena Gyansah | Cast: Asana Alhassan, Akofa Edjeani Asiedu, Peter Ritchie, Adjetey Anang | Genre: Drama | Year: 2018 | Language: Akan, English
Though it wasn’t nominated, Azali was Ghana’s first-ever submission to the in the Best International Feature Film category at the 2018 Oscars. The film centers on a girl named Amina, who initially lives in a small village in northern Ghana. However, while trying to evade an arranged marriage, Amina gets thrust into the slums of Ghana’s capital city Accra, where she resorts to s3x work for survival.
By Ghanian film standards, Azali doesn’t stray into ridiculous territory and maintains a pretty steady plot progression. The film has a surprise twist ending that we won’t spoil, but otherwise offers a straight-shooting stark take on life in Accra’s slums. Its production quality and cinematography are also pretty decent.
Azali Trailer :
Road to Yesterday
Country: Nigeria | Director: Ishaya Bako | Cast: Genevieve Nnaji, Oris Erhuero | Genre: Romance, Drama | Year: 2015 | Language: English
Those more interested in romance movies might find Road to Yesterday a worthwhile African movie on Netflix. This Nollywood production follows an estranged couple who, on a long drive to a relative’s funeral, try to repair their relationship but end up unearthing more emotional baggage than they bargained for.
Road to Yesterday offers an understated and slow-paced take on romance that is anchored by the two lead actors’ chemistry. There is no trashy sensationalism or absurd plot twists to derail a simple and enjoyable love story.
Road to Yesterday Trailer :
Country: South Africa | Director: Kagiso Lediga | Cast: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland, Akin Omotoso | Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama | Year: 2018 | Language: English
South African film Catching Feelings adds another dash of romance to our list while retaining a sense of sociopolitical consciousness. The movie focuses on a university lecturer named Max and his girlfriend Sam, who flit around Johannesburg’s cosmopolitan circles. When a famous white South African writer returns to Max’s university for a book tour, Max finds himself drawn to the writer’s social circles yet resenting the writer’s success—which puts strain on his relationship with Sam.
Narrative complexity isn’t Catching Feelings’ area of expertise. Rather, the film is quite character driven, and contains many light yet thought-provoking musings on racism, classism, and creativity within a post-apartheid South African context. Furthermore, it’s a great escape from Hollywood stereotypes and tropes about South Africa.
2021 Best African Movies on Netflix
Catching Feelings Trailer :
King of Boys
Country: Nigeria | Director: Kemi Adetiba | Cast: Sola Sobowale, Remilekun Reminisce Safaru, Adesua Etomi-Wellington | Genre: Thriller, Drama, Political | Year: 2018 | Language: English, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa
In 2016, Nigerian director Kemi Adetiba made The Wedding Party, which to this date is the highest-grossing Nollywood movie of all time. While that movie is also on Netflix, we’re leaving it off this list in favor of Adetiba’s second movie: King of Boys.
While The Wedding Party was a socially conscious romantic comedy, King of Boys is a darker, politically-tinged thriller—which provides fodder for examining the world in addition to entertainment. King of Boys features actress Sola Sobowale in a powerful performance as Alhaja Eniola Salami, a powerful businesswoman who will stop at nothing to advance her own interests. While the film’s 2 hour 49 minute runtime might turn off some viewers, King of Boys should appeal to those who enjoy dark movies with meditations on power and violence.
King of Boys Trailer :
Country: Nigeria | Director: Kunle Afolayan | Cast: Ramsey Nouah, Omoni Oboli, Kunle Afolayan, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi | Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror | Year: 2009 | Language: English, Yoruba
Supernatural thriller film The Figurine is one of the most intriguing Nollywood films from the past few decades. The movie follows two friends who find a mysterious figurine in the forest; apparently, those who find the figurine will gain seven years of luck. However, after those seven years elapse, the two friends’ lives start going downhill in chilling ways.
First released in 2009 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Figurine is one of the few Nollywood films that have received appreciable international, critical, and scholarly attention. Compared with Nollywood movies before it, The Figurine represented a noticeable step forward in terms of cinematography and storytelling quality.
The film arguably helped spark a mindset shift in Nollywood towards making films that would show in theaters, as opposed to simply home video. Furthermore, The Figurine also inspired an entire 455-page book called Autering Nollywood, which offered scholarly analysis on the film from academics and film luminaries in Nigeria and beyond.
The Figurine Trailer :
Country: Nigeria | Director: Kunle Afolayan | Cast: Sadiq Daba, Kayode Aderupoko, Demola Adedoyin, Kehinde Bankole | Genre: Historical, Political, Drama, Thriller | Year: 2014 | Language: English, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa
After The Figurine, director Kunle Afolayan went on to make October 1, our next selection in this list of best African movies on Netflix. Set in the waning days of colonial Nigeria, the film follows a police officer named Danladi Waziri who must solve a murder mystery before Nigeria’s independence day on October 1, 1960.
October 1 stands above many Nollywood movies in terms of production quality and plot. The film avoids melodrama and sensationalism, offering a detailed and entertaining look at a period of history that’s not often depicted in cinema. October 1 includes ample commentary on pertinent sociopolitical topics like imperialism, tribalism, and nation-building. Those who might not know much about Nigerian history can use it as an easy entry point for learning more.
October 1 Trailer :
Country: Nigeria | Director: Genevieve Nnaji | Cast: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Kanayo O. Kanayo | Genre: Drama, Comedy | Year: 2018 | Language: English, Igbo
Lionheart made waves as Netflix’s first-ever Nigerian original film production. In practical terms, this means you don’t have to worry about the movie getting taken off Netflix due to some licensing disagreements.
In this drama-comedy, a young woman named Adaeze Obiagu aspires to prove herself as a business leader at her father’s company, Lionheart. When health issues incapacitate her father, she gets a chance to showcase her skills. Facing sexism and mountains of corporate debt, Adaeze must work together with an eccentric uncle to save Lionheart from failure.
If you’re looking for a female-centric Nollywood film with a heartfelt and engaging story, Lionheart is a good pick. The film has a dynamic pace with many humorous moments, and is a great sign of things to come for Netflix original productions from Nigeria and other parts of the African continent.
Lionheart Trailer :
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
Country: Malawi, UK | Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor | Cast: Maxwell Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor | Genre: Drama | Year: 2018 | Language: English, Chichewa
Another Netflix original movie worth featuring is The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. Though this movie had British producers, it also had Malawian co-producers and was filmed in Malawi with 80%+ of dialog in Chichewa—so we feel it’s “African” enough to qualify.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind dramatizes the fascinating real life story of William Kamkwamba, a Malawian inventor who achieved fame by building wind turbines out of scrap parts to generate electricity for his rural family. British-born and Oscar nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor directs and stars in the movie, but the real star is Maxwell Simba—who plays a young version of Kamkwamba. Those looking for an inspiring and heartwarming movie from an African context should definitely check out The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind Trailer :
Country: South Africa | Director: Akin Omotoso | Cast: Phuthi Nakene, Warren Masemola, Azwile Chamane-Madiba | Genre: Drama | Year: 2016 | Language: Zulu, English
Before making Vaya, director Akin Omotoso spent years in story workshops with homeless residents of South Africa’s economic capital, Johannesburg. The stories he heard influenced Vaya, which powerfully interweaves three stories of South Africans who come from rural communities to fulfill personal dreams or aspirations in Johannesburg. There’s a man eagerly anticipating a job in the big city, another young man trying to reclaim his father’s corpse, and a young woman who wants to escape the drudgery of rural life.
Each of these stories soon encounters a twist, launching Vaya into a gripping and poignant exploration into the dark underbelly of urban life in South Africa’s beating economic heart. The movie feels like a South African version of Mexican masterpiece Amores Perros—which similarly weaved together three narratives into a powerful and dynamic feature.
Watch Vaya Trailer below:
Country: Senegal | Director: Mati Diop | Cast: Mame Bineta Sane, Ibrahima Traoré | Genre: Drama, Art House | Year: 2019 | Language: Wolof, French
Sengalese director Mati Diop’s film Atlantics generated significant buzz when it won the Grand Prix at 2019’s Cannes Film Festival. The award was a long time coming for African cinema, though unfortunately discourse around the win often seemed more centered around Diop’s illustrious heritage (she’s the daughter of famed musician Wasis Diop and niece of cinematic luminary Djibril Diop Mambéty) than the film itself.
Atlantics tells the story of a young woman named Ada. She’s about to enter an arranged marriage with a rich man named Omar, but actually loves another man named Souleiman. One day, Souleiman sets off by sea to Europe—and Ada hears nothing from him thereafter. As Ada’s wedding date approaches and she longs for Souleiman, a series of mysterious events begin occurring.
Besides intriguing characters, Atlantics has superb cinematography and sound design. The film’s colors are achingly cool, and a droning soundscape further builds an appropriately haunting and mystical ambience. Even without Diop’s legendary family background, Atlantics more than deserved its Cannes award.
Watch the Atlantics Trailer below:
The Burial of Kojo
Country: Ghana | Director: Blitz Bazawule | Cast: Cynthia Dankwa, Ama K. Abebrese, Joseph Otsiman | Genre: Drama, Art House | Year: 2018 | Language: Twi, English
Our top choice out of all African films on Netflix today is The Burial of Kojo. Similar to Atlantics, this is another mysticism-tinged movie that raises—and arguably redefines—artistic standards in African cinema.
The film opens with a girl named Esi reflecting upon her father Kojo. Mystical elements—sacred birds, dreams, symbolisms in telenovelas—seep into Esi’s life as the story solidifies into a journey where Esi must rescue her father from an abandoned mineshaft.
The Burial of Kojo is written and directed by Ghanian musician Blitz Bazawule, also known by his stage name Blitz the Ambassador. Apparently Bazawule’s artistic prodigy extends to film as well. Though The Burial of Kojo is his directorial debut, it has a distinctive cinematic voice that seems both well-informed by preceding filmmaking legends (ex. Djibril Diop Mambéty) and willing to push boundaries. Unsurprisingly given Bazawule’s background, the film’s fantastic score contains flairs of Afrobeat, and exceptional editing and color choices supercharge sweeping shots achieved through thoughtful camera movements (and drone flying, in some cases).
Watch The Burial of Kojo Trailer below:
17 killed, 59 injured by explosion in western Ghana
At least 17 people were killed and 59 injured Thursday in a devastating explosion in a western Ghana town after a truck carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle, the government said.
The blast left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal in Apiate, near the city of Bogoso some 300 kilometres (180 miles) west of the mineral-rich West African country’s capital Accra.
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The minister said initial signs point to “an accident involving a truck transporting explosive materials for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle” which took place near an electrical transformer.
Out of 59 people injured, 42 are receiving treatment in hospitals or health centres and “some are in critical condition”, Nkrumah added.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo called it a “truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident”.
The government said those in critical condition would be moved to hospitals in Accra and police asked surrounding villages to open their schools and churches to accommodate any additional casualties.
A team of police and army explosion experts were deployed to “avoid a second explosion” and put in place security measures after the blast, the government said in a press release.
Ethiopia hails return of looted artefacts
Ethiopia on Saturday hailed the return of precious artefacts looted by British soldiers more than 150 years ago, after a long campaign for their restitution.
The collection — recovered from Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands — includes a ceremonial crown, an imperial shield, a set of silver-embossed horn drinking cups, a handwritten prayer book, crosses and a necklace.
Most of the items were plundered by the British army after it defeated Emperor Tewodros II in the Battle of Magdala in 1868 in what was then Abyssinia.
The treasures were unwrapped before the media at Ethiopia’s national museum on Saturday, more than two months after they were formally handed over at a ceremony in London in September.
Ethiopia said it was the largest such repatriation of artefects to the country, with its ambassador to Britain, Teferi Melesse, describing it as of “huge significance”.
Calls have long been mounting in Africa for Western countries to return their colonial spoils, with many prized national treasures held abroad in museums or sometimes private collections.
Earlier this month, the West African state of Benin welcomed back nearly 30 royal treasures seized during France’s rule more than 130 years ago.
– ‘Great injustice’ –
The Ethiopian government is still fighting for Britain to return other stolen artefacts including sacred wooden and stone tabots or tablets, which represent the Ark of the Covenant.
The tabots are housed in the British Museum in London — which has a vast trove of foreign treasures — but have never been put on public display.
Ethiopia is also seeking the remains of Tewodros’ son Prince Alemayehu who was taken to Britain after the emperor committed suicide following his battlefield defeat.
“A variety of artefacts which are a legacy of our culture and values were looted during the battle and taken out of the country illegally,” said Tourism Minister Nasise Challi.
“Countless of our artefacts are found in various museums, research centers and in the hands of private individuals,” she said at Saturday’s event, appealing for their return.
Ethiopia, one of the world’s oldest countries with a rich and ancient cultural and religious heritage, has said it considers the ransacking of Magdala a “great injustice” that has been a thorn in relations with Britain.
Several of the returned items were due to be auctioned but were bought by the non-profit Scheherazade Foundation with the aim of repatriation. Others were acquired from private dealers or investors.
Among them was a set of medieval manuscripts dating back to before the 18th century, which had been due to be auctioned in the Hague.
Ethiopia is also negotiating for the return of a bible and cross that were set for the auction block in the United States.
“These restitutions are taking place in a global context where the role of museums in portraying colonial histories and the legitimacy of displaying looted artefacts is being questioned,” Ethiopia’s National Heritage Restitution Committee said in a statement in September.
Seven killed, five injured in Burkina Faso ambush
Seven police officers were killed and five others injured in an ambush by gunmen on Friday in the Sahel region in Burkina Faso, the police said in the capital Ouagadougou.
According to a police statement, the ambush targeted a squad of the Republic security companies officers of Dori while on a mission to ensure security on Dori-Essakane road axis in Seno province on Friday morning.
“Unfortunately, seven police officers were recorded dead following the attack. Five others were injured and taken to Dori regional hospital center where they are currently under care,” the police said.
The source also said a sweep operation by Burkina Faso’s defense and security forces is underway in the area.