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The Empire in Africa: The Film That Shows the Real Causes and Consequences of Sierra Leone's Conflict

The Empire in Africa: A Documentary Film About the Civil War in Sierra Leone

The Empire in Africa is a 2006 French documentary film directed and produced by Philippe Diaz. It tells the story of the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone, one of the most brutal conflicts in modern history. The film uses footage from the ground, interviews with various stakeholders, and analysis from experts to expose the causes, consequences, and complexities of the war. It also questions the role of the international community and the media in shaping the narrative and outcome of the conflict.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you might want to watch this film online. In this article, we will tell you what the film is about, how to watch it online, what are the reviews and ratings of the film, and what are some facts and trivia about it.

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What is the film about?

The Empire in Africa is a documentary film that covers the period from 1991 to 2002, when Sierra Leone was engulfed in a civil war between the government and a rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The film explores the following aspects of the conflict:

The background of the civil war

The film explains how Sierra Leone, a former British colony, became independent in 1961 but soon fell into political instability, corruption, and poverty. Despite having rich natural resources, such as diamonds, gold, and bauxite, Sierra Leone was ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world by the United Nations. The film also shows how foreign corporations exploited the country's resources and how local elites benefited from them.

The main actors and events of the conflict

The film introduces some of the key figures and factions involved in the civil war, such as:

  • Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the president of Sierra Leone who was elected in 1996 but overthrown by a military coup in 1997.

  • Foday Sankoh, the leader of the RUF who started a rebellion against the government in 1991 with support from Liberia's Charles Taylor.

  • Mike Lamin, a commander of the RUF who was interviewed by Diaz in 2002.

  • Zainab Hawa Bangura, a representative of civil society who advocated for peace and human rights.

  • ECOMOG, a regional peacekeeping force led by Nigeria that intervened in Sierra Leone in 1997 to restore Kabbah's government.

  • UNAMSIL, a United Nations peacekeeping mission that was deployed in Sierra Leone in 1999 to monitor a ceasefire agreement.

The film also depicts some of the major events and atrocities that occurred during the civil war, such as:

  • The RUF's use of child soldiers, forced labor, rape, torture, and mutilation as tactics of terror.

  • The diamond trade that fueled the war and enriched both sides of the conflict.

  • The Lomé Peace Accord that granted amnesty and power-sharing to Sankoh and his rebels in 1999.

  • The hostage-taking of UN peacekeepers by RUF rebels in 2000.

  • The British intervention that helped secure Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital city, from rebel attacks in 2000.The disarmament and demobilization of the RUF rebels in 2001.

  • The Special Court for Sierra Leone that was established in 2002 to prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The role of the international community and the media

The film also examines how the international community and the media influenced the course and perception of the war, such as:

  • The lack of attention and intervention from the Western powers and the UN until the late stages of the war.

  • The biased and sensationalized coverage of the war by some Western media outlets that focused on the violence and victimization of the people, rather than the root causes and solutions of the conflict.

  • The humanitarian and diplomatic efforts of some NGOs, activists, and celebrities that raised awareness and funds for the peace process and the reconstruction of Sierra Leone.

  • The hidden agendas and interests of some foreign actors that supported or undermined the peace process and the sovereignty of Sierra Leone.

How to watch the film online?

If you want to watch The Empire in Africa online, you have several options to choose from. Here are some of them:

The available streaming platforms and prices

One of the easiest ways to watch the film online is to use a streaming platform that offers it. Some of the platforms that have The Empire in Africa in their catalog are:

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Amazon Prime Video

$2.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy

US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, India


$2.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy

US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, India

Vimeo On Demand

$4.99 to rent, $14.99 to buy



Free with library card or university login

US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand


Free with library card

US, Canada

Tubi TV

Free with ads

US, Canada, Australia, Mexico

The film was distributed by Cinema Libre Studio, an independent film studio that specializes in social and political documentaries. The film was released in theaters in the US in 2006 and in DVD in 2007. The film was also screened at various film festivals and events around the world.

The controversies and challenges of the film

The film faced many controversies and challenges during and after its production and distribution. Some of the difficulties and disputes that the film encountered are:

  • The film was banned in France by the Conseil d'État in 2007, after a complaint from ECOMOG that the film defamed their reputation. The ban was lifted in 2010, after Diaz appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

  • The film was also banned in Sierra Leone by the government, who claimed that the film was inaccurate and inflammatory. The ban was lifted in 2011, after Diaz appealed to the Sierra Leonean courts.

  • The film was criticized by some human rights groups and activists, who accused Diaz of being biased and sympathetic to the RUF rebels. They also argued that the film ignored the voices and perspectives of the victims and survivors of the war.

  • The film was challenged by some journalists and academics, who questioned Diaz's sources, methods, and analysis. They also argued that the film oversimplified and distorted the complex reality of the war.

The impact and legacy of the film

The film had a significant impact and legacy on the public awareness and understanding of the civil war in Sierra Leone. Some of the effects and contributions that the film made are:

  • The film exposed the truth and challenged the mainstream narrative of the war, revealing the hidden agendas and interests of some foreign actors and media outlets.

  • The film raised awareness and funds for the peace process and the reconstruction of Sierra Leone, supporting some NGOs, activists, and celebrities who worked for this cause.

  • The film inspired and influenced other filmmakers and artists who tackled similar topics and issues, such as Blood Diamond, a 2006 Hollywood film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film educated and informed many viewers who were unaware or misinformed about the civil war in Sierra Leone, sp


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