It would be fair to say that my knowledge outside of general glimpses of education on certain troubles in Africa would be considered basic. I would also consider most people to have the same knowledge of the troubles encompassing the continent. This sense of ignorance is blown away in Reza Pakravan’s The World’s Most Dangerous Borders. This is a documentary series that not only demands to be seen. But demands that you take notice and become aware of how much devastation is hitting that region as the rest of the world turns a blind eye.
Set off on an epic journey along Africa’s most volatile and dangerous borders to discover the lives of those who live there. The series tells the story of this troubled, forgotten region through the eyes of our brave guide Reza Pakravan. Taking the audience on a visually stunning journey across the continent, Reza explores nations devastated by war and terrorism, and unearths the life-and-death consequences that climate change has wrought upon the land, where desertiﬁcation has contributed to the greatest internal migration ever witnessed on this planet. Tracking across eight nations in the Sahelian belt, Reza discovers enduring traditions, religious diversity and extraordinary landscapes.
The world seems to be getting smaller and smaller, with fewer and fewer places becoming unattainable to reach for tourists. Reza Pakravan however, finds that around some borders in Africa, attempting to get to places such as Timbuktu is a lot harder and full of perils than you would imagine.
While we focus on the journey and dangers around these countries, Pakravan wants to show us a side of Africa that most people would not know. We see the haunting images of the deserts encroaching towards villages and the people struggling to live when their lakes and rivers are withering away to a dusty nothing. Lake Chad has shrunk 1/3 in size in ten years due to climate change, an explosion of population and diverted irrigation. We see the lack of infrastructure for removing rubbish, so it just piles into the middle of the street. The damage that humans have caused is plain to see. It is not just terrorism that is causing havoc on this continent.
Beyond the troubles and devastation of the region, we see some beautiful and astonishing sights. The massive mud mosque is over 113 years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the biggest mud structure on Earth. Based in the city of Djenne in Mali it is plastered with a fresh coating by locals once a year. The party atmosphere is enrapturing. You are taken in by their festival and celebrations. We see the beauty and cultures that are trying to thrive under the harsher circumstances.
When Reza and his guide Henry reach Niger they encounter human trafficking and immigrants trying to get to Europe. This is where we further learn how infighting and terrorism have caused cities to turn to ruin. Being told how a theme of cities that used to be populous and almost destination resorts for travellers. Has now turned to places where migrants are dropped off and set to have to live their lives in ghettos or at least reside this next phase there. They show their frustration of having to escape their countries. Paying for smugglers to get them to the coast and thus over to Europe to work. It is devastating and a stark reminder of how these groups can stay funded, so they can control their regions, despite the efforts from authorities.
Almost at every stop Reza informs the audience that there has been an attack, be it from Jihads or Boko Haram. There is a trail of death around this series, the atrocities are non-stop and the fear and trauma is evident on the people, the villages and the cities. Everything is crumbling into ruin, despite the efforts of those to create some sort of community. The poverty is real and at a time of COVID-19, it is easy to forget that this is still happening around us (albeit thousands of miles away).
As our journey continues in The World’s Most Dangerous Borders. Reza’s enthusiasm begins to wane at times when the stress of his situation strikes him. The fear of terrorists attacking him and his team leaves him haggard, with it more than obvious when he reaches safety as his whole demeanour relaxes. This is understandable as well, these moments are tense. And you wonder how anyone without the knowledge that this group has would navigate around safely. In Lake Chad, we are informed that Boko Haram has infected the islands there. Promising safety, water and money if they join the group. There is no other option if you want to live.
Again with Lake Chad, we see that this poverty and fighting has caused the islanders to not consider themselves from a specific country. They are from Lake Chad. This is due to their own countries ignoring their plight. To see their living conditions shocks you. Living in refugee huts. In their own countries. These huts are purposely made to be temporary as they are made from sticks and hay. It is devastating.
The World’s Most Dangerous Borders is a gripping and fascinating look at a world that needs more attention shone on it. Despite all of the war, death and fear. Each country and village is filled with people who want a return to a better time, a happier time.
The World’s Most Dangerous Borders on Digital HD 26th October and Amazon Prime Video 27th November.
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