Smyth, Rosaleen. “The Central African Film Unit’s Images of Empire, 1948–1963.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 3.2 (1983): 131-147.
The Central African Film Unit (CAFU) was a government-sponsored regional film unit serving the three territories of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland from 1948 until 1963. Originally the primary objective of the CAFU was to make instructional films for African audiences whilst other objectives were the making of tourist and publicity films for overseas, and film for Europeans in Central Africa. However, when the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was established in l 953 the CAFU became part of the Federal Department of Information and the priorities altered; though some instructional films for Africans continued to be made the main concern of the unit now became the making of publicity and propaganda films to popularize the Federation at home and abroad. This article will focus on the instructional films by the CAFU in as much as they were of a special type designed to get basic concepts about better living across to audiences who were largely illiterate. Three important questions emerge. To what extent did the CAFU filmmakers succeed in contributing to African development? What was the influence of local politics on the unit’s work? Finally, viewing this corpus of instructional films as a record of Central Africa’s colonial past, what images of Empire do they offer?