From the very beginning, ‘Black Earth Rising’ has you asking questions you may have never thought to ask.

Should anyone have the right to prosecute criminals from other countries in the name of ‘justice’? Are past good deeds ever enough to tolerate present wrongdoings?

The first episode asked you these questions and demonstrated over and over why the answers are never so straightforward as yes or no.

The suspense-filled six-part special showcases some of the best in rising talent that the UK has to offer telling a thrilling tale of corruption and exploitation, highlighting the loopholes those with power have at their disposal against the often-avoided topic of the Rwandan genocide and ongoing relationships between the West and Africa. The show tackles issues such as justice, truth, and one’s identity, both given and chosen.

Black Earth Rising’ begins with a thought-provoking discussion between Eve Ashby (Harriet Walter) and an audience member at one of her lectures. Eve, a successful and renowned barrister, is questioned over the morality of the UK, along with other members of the UN, getting involved in the politics of others, Africa specifically. The topic of the Rwandan genocide is handled in a way that implores you to think about not only those who didn’t survive but those who did and what their lives may be like today.

When faced with the possible imprisonment of Simon Nyamoya (Danny Sapani), a Colonel during the genocide that helped a great deal to defeat the government that killed so many, we begin to understand the main driving force for conflict to come between seemingly loving characters.

In this episode, we are introduced to the mother and daughter who represent two opposing perspectives to this situation very clearly. Our main character, Kate Ashby (Michaela Coel), who was saved from the genocide by her adoptive mother Eve and brought to the UK, shows how a personal connection to anything can greatly cloud one’s judgment. Whilst Eve, with an infuriating objectivity, shows how holding firm in what you believe in may negatively affect those that you love and force them away.

In fact, the first episode shows that this pairing will be a central focus for the story’s plot, something that will be very interesting to see given their unconventional, but loving, dynamic.

The main point of the first episode, like many first episodes of a new series, is to ask questions and Black Earth Rising does this very well.

Therefore, I am very excited to see where this show can take us and how these questions can be answered in the coming weeks, especially with that mysterious cliff-hanger we were left on.

Article by Jade Fakokunde


Black Earth Rising

Director: Hugo Blick

Writer: Hugo Blick

Cast: Michaela Coel, Noma Dumezweni, Lucian Msamati, Abena Ayiver, Emmanuel Imani.

Channel: BBC Two

Air date: Mondays, 9 – 10 pm

Catch up previous episodes via BBC iPlayer