15 Best African Movies on Netflix

Netflix has a claim to being the most popular streaming service of all time. The platform boasts of thousands of movies and TV shows from America to Europe, Asia, and of course Africa. The black continent has contributed oodles of films to Netflix; from exciting thrillers to comedies coming from countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia, and Ghana, Africa keeps rolling out new and exciting movies and the best of them are all on the streaming service’s platform.

Talking about the best African movies on Netflix, there is a hand-picked number of productions that just have to be mentioned for the list to be deemed complete. Among the most popular offerings that ever came out of the continent is the mysticism-tinged Ghanaian movie entitled The Burial of Kojo. The Grand Prix-winning Atlantics has also become a favorite for many fans of African film. What about South Africa’s Vaya with its interwoven and intriguing plot and Nigeria’s Lion Heart, which created a lot of buzz upon its release. The list goes on and on. The caliber of African movies on Netflix is simply a testament to the diversity of the creative minds on the black continent. Now, which African movie would you prefer to watch on Netflix? Make your pick from the list below.

Must Watch African Films on Netflix

1. The Burial of Kojo

  • Country: Ghana
  • Director: Blitz Bazawule
  • Cast: Cynthia Dankwa, Ama K. Abebrese, Joseph Otsiman
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: Twi, English

The Burial of Kojo takes the lead among the 15 Best African Movies on Netflix. Its mysticism-tinged plot makes it comparable to Atlantics but it raises the bar and arguably redefines the artistic standards of African cinema. The film opens with Esi – a young Ghanaian girl reflecting upon the Mystical elements of her dad Kojo – dreams, sacred birds, symbolisms in telenovelas – gradually seep into the young lady’s life as the plot thickens into a journey where it became imperative for Esi to rescue her dad from a derelict mineshaft.

The directorial debut of one of Ghana’s known musicians Blitz Bazawule (Blitz the Ambassador), The Burial of Kojo comes with a unique cinematic voice that appears both up to date by preceding moviemaking legends (ex. Djibril Diop Mambéty) and eager to push boundaries.

Given Blitz Bazawule’s background, it is not surprising that the movie’s extraordinary score has flairs of Afrobeat, exceptional editing, as well as color selection. There were supercharge sweeping shots that were achieved through well-planned camera movements (this includes the drone flying).

2. Atlantics

best African movies on Netflix
Atlantics image source

  • Country: Senegal
  • Director: Mati Diop
  • Cast: Mame Bineta Sane, Ibrahima Traoré
  • Year: 2019
  • Language: Wolof, French

From the directorial portfolio of popular Sengalese movie director Mati Diop, Atlantics created a considerable buzz at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 when it emerged winner of the Grand Prix. The award was considered to be long overdue for African cinema, however, the euphoria was a bit doused when discourse about the win appeared to be more centered on the director’s illustrious heritage than the movie itself.

Note: Diop is the daughter of celebrated Senegalese musician Wasis Diop and a niece to Djibril Diop Mambéty – cinematic luminary.

The plot of the film is centered around a young African lady named Ada who was set to become the wife of a rich man named Omar in an arranged marriage. However, Ada’s real love interest is the younger Souleiman. The day came when Souleiman embarked on a journey to Europe by sea and for a long time, Ada lost all communications with him. With her wedding date around the corner, the new bride-to-be longs for her true love, setting off a set of mysterious events.

Though intriguing characters are one of the fortes of Atlantics, the movie can also boast of excellent sound design and cinematography. The appropriately mystical and haunting ambiance of the movie is all thanks to a droning soundscape and achingly cool colors. The director’s legendary family background notwithstanding, Diop’s Atlantics deserves the Cannes award and more. Little wonder it is rated among the Best African Movies on Netflix.

3. Vaya

  • Country: South Africa
  • Director: Akin Omotoso
  • Cast: Phuthi Nakene, Warren Masemola, Azwile Chamane-Madiba
  • Year: 2016
  • Language: Zulu, English

The production of Vaya was influenced by Akin Omotoso’s real-life experience in SA’s economic capital of Johannesburg where he spent years with homeless residents in story workshops. Interwoven in the plot of Vaya are three tales of South African nationals who migrated to Joburg from their respective rural communities in a bid to fulfill their long-held dreams and aspirations. Depicted in the plot is a man with great anticipation of scoring a job in the capital city, another on a serious mission to reclaim the corpse of his late dad, and a young lady looking for an escape route from the toil of rural life.

Soon the individual stories encountered a twist, launching the movie into a fascinating and emotional discovery of the shady underbelly of urban life in SA’s economic heartbeat. The movie’s captivating storyline earned it the number three spot on the list of the 15 best African movies on Netflix. In fact, it is comparable to Amores Perros – a Mexican masterpiece that similarly weaved three narratives together into a dynamic and powerful feature

4. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

  • Country: Malawi, UK
  • Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Cast: Maxwell Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: English, Chichewa

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind is yet another Netflix movie that is sure to keep you fascinated till the end. The movie is deemed African enough to qualify for a slot on the list of 15 best African movies on Netflix for several reasons. For one, it was shot in Malawi with over 80% of its dialog in the local language of Chichewa. Secondly, Malawian co-producers contributed to the movie’s productions and it has a Malawian feel to it. However, the producers were all British but that did not affect the fact that the movie is African.

The movie is about Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba, dramatizing his enthralling real-life story where he earned fame by using scrap parts to construct wind turbines to generate electricity for his family in the rural area. In addition to starring in the movie, British-born Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor also served as the director. The Oscar-nominated actor was merely a co-star, supporting Maxwell Simba who is the real star as he breathes life into the character of Kamkwamba (the younger version). Be sure to consider watching The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind if you are on the lookout for a heartwarming and inspiring film from an African context.

5. Lionheart

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Genevieve Nnaji
  • Cast: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Kanayo O. Kanayo
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: English, Igbo

Lionheart made the headlines as the first-ever Nigerian original movie production on Netflix. Practically, this means that Netflix is not likely to take the film off the platform in the event of any licensing disagreements.

The drama-comedy follows the life of a beautiful young lady named Adaeze Obiagu. Adaeze’s aspiration was to prove how good she is as a business leader given an opportunity at her father’s company, Lionheart. She finally got the needed chance to showcase her business prowess when her father was incapacitated as a result of heart issues. The task was far from easy for Adaeze who in the midst of mountains of corporate debt also had to battle sexism. Besides, she had to work alongside her eccentric uncle to salvage what is left of the company and send it on the way to recovery.

Lionheart is deemed a good pick for movie lovers on the lookout for female-centric Nollywood movies with an engaging and heartfelt plot. Its dynamic pace and several humorous moments are considered to be signs of a great future for Netflix original productions made in Nigeria as well as the other parts of Africa.

6. October 1

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Kunle Afolayan
  • Cast: Sadiq Daba, Kayode Aderupoko, Demola Adedoyin, Kehinde Bankole
  • Year: 2014
  • Language: English, Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa

Next on the list of 15 best African movies on Netflix is October 1, directed by Kunle Afolayan. The historical setting of the movie happens to be the waning days of colonial Nigeria when the country still stood on wobbling feet. The plot is centered on Danladi Waziri – a police officer who was charged with the responsibility of cracking a mysterious murder case before the country’s independence day celebration on the first of October 1960. Compared to other Nollywood productions, October 1 comes way higher thanks to its plot and production quality.

The movie did well in avoiding sensationalism and melodrama as it offers a comprehensive and engaging look at an era of history not often portrayed in the cinema. October 1 can teach us a lot about Nigerian history through its ample annotations on significant sociopolitical topics such as imperialism, nation-building, and tribalism.

7. The Figurine

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Kunle Afolayan
  • Cast: Ramsey Nouah, Omoni Oboli, Kunle Afolayan, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi
  • Year: 2009
  • Language: English, Yoruba

A Supernatural thriller movie, Kunle Afolayan’s The Figurine is listed among the most captivating Nollywood movies from the past few decades and it is on Netflix. The storyline follows two friends who discovered a mysterious figurine while exploring the forest. They say that anyone who discovers the figurine stands to gain seven long years of luck. However, at the end of the stated seven years, things start to go downhill for the two friends in chilling ways.

The Figurine was first released at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2009 and has pride of place as one of the Nollywood movies that have earned significant international, scholarly, and critical attention. Compared to preceding Nollywood movies, The Figurine symbolized a noticeable step forward in its cinematography and storytelling quality.

Arguably, The Figurine played a big role in sparking a mindset shift in the Nigerian movie industry towards producing movies for the theater as opposed to home videos. What’s more, The Figurine inspired Autering Nollywood – a 455-page book that offered some scholarly analysis on the film from both academics and movie luminaries in the country and beyond.

8. King of Boys

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Kemi Adetiba
  • Cast: Sola Sobowale, Remilekun Reminisce Safaru, Adesua Etomi-Wellington
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: English, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa

The director of King of Boys happens to be Kemi Adetiba – the acclaimed director of the highest-grossing Nollywood film of all time, The Wedding Party. While The Wedding Party is also on Netflix, King of Boys went above it to be listed among the 15 best African movies on Netflix. Against The Wedding Party which is a socially conscious romcom, King of Boys happens to be a darker, politically-tinged thriller. In addition to providing entertainment, the movie also provides fodder for examining the world.

In the storyline, Yoruba actress Sola Sobowale is featured in a powerful performance, depicting the role of an influential businesswoman Alhaja Eniola Salami who can never be hindered from advancing her personal interests. Though some viewers might be turned off by the movie’s runtime of 2 hours 49 minutes, King of Boys should be able to appeal to lovers of dark movies with meditations on violence and power.

9. Catching Feelings

  • Country: South Africa
  • Director: Kagiso Lediga
  • Cast: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland, Akin Omotoso
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: English

Adding another dash of romance to this list of African movies on Netflix is the SA film entitled Catching feelings. Even with a tinge of romance, the movie still retains a sense of sociopolitical awareness. The plot revolves around Max – a university lecturer whose girlfriend is named Sam. The duo is known for flitting around the cosmopolitan circles of Joburg. Things, however, change as the couple begins experiencing a strain on their relationship after Max was drawn to the social circles of a famed white South African writer who returns to his university for a book tour.

Though Catching Feelings didn’t earn top points for narrative complexity, the movie is quite character-driven, coming with several light but yet provocative musings on serious issues like racism, creativity, and classism within a post-apartheid South African context. In addition, it serves as an escape from Hollywood’s tropes and stereotypes about SA.

10. Road To Yesterday

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Ishaya Bako
  • Cast: Genevieve Nnaji, Oris Erhuero
  • Year: 2015
  • Language: English

If you happen to be a diehard romantic, chances are that you might find the Ishaya Bako-directed movie Road to Yesterday fascinating. Considered good enough to earn a place among the 15 best African movies on Netflix, this Nollywood production revolves around an estranged couple who had a go at repairing their relationship while on their way to the funeral of a relative. However, the reverse was the case as the duo ended up unearthing additional emotional baggage which is way more than they ever bargained for.

The movie offers a slow-paced and understated take on romance, anchored by the chemistry of the two lead actors. The film is completely devoid of any absurd plot twists or trashy sensationalism that can derail an uncomplicated and enjoyable love story. Viewers whose taste in movies run to the simple plot are sure to find pleasure in relaxing with Road to Yesterday.

11. Azali

  • Country: Ghana
  • Director: Kwabena Gyansah
  • Cast: Asana Alhassan, Akofa Edjeani Asiedu, Peter Ritchie, Adjetey Anang
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: Akan, English

Even though it never became a nominee, Azali happens to be Ghana’s first-ever submission in the category of Best International Feature Film at the Oscars in 2018. The film is centered around a young girl who goes by the name of Amina. Initially, Amina was a resident of a small village in the northern part of Ghana. However, making efforts to run away from an arranged marriage, she finds herself in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. Right in the slums of the city, the young lady tried to put food on the table by turning into a commercial sex worker.

Going by the film standards in the West African nation of Ghana, Azali maintains what is best described as a pretty steady plot progression. Besides, it never strayed into ridiculous territory. The movie offers you a straight-shooting bleak take on life in the slum of Ghana’s capital city and later came with a surprise twist. Azali’s cinematography and production quality are also considered to be pretty decent. You can check it out on Netflix.

12. Kalushi

  • Country: South Africa
  • Director: Mandla Dube
  • Cast: Thabo Rametsi, Mondy, Tommy London
  • Year: 2016
  • Language: English

Kalushi is one South African movie on Netflix that can bring viewers to tears. The true-life story was based on the tale of 19-year old street hawker Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu who hails from the ghetto township of Mamelodi. The young boy had an absentee father who deserted the family and only surfaces now and then. Thus, Kalushi was raised under the watch of his domestic worker mother without any help.

As the plot moves along, viewers get to see Kalushi turn into an activist, a freedom fighter, and an operative of the ANC military wing. He joined the liberation movement after the Soweto uprising of 1976 but later went into exile after he received severe beatings from the police. Upon the completion of his training which took place in Angola, the freedom fighter was commissioned alongside his comrade and good friend Mondy.

At a later point in time, Mondy lost control and shot a couple of civilians dead. The incident, which happened on Goch Street in Johannesburg, saw Mondy get beaten and tortured severely for his actions while Kalushi was compelled to stand trial under what was known as the common purpose doctrine. The state sought the ultimate punishment from the court – death by hanging. Kalushi fought the final battle in the court, standing for his friend. His sacrifice immortalized him into a national icon and hero of the struggle.

13. Baxu and the Giants

  • Country: Namibia
  • Director: Florian Schott
  • Cast: Steven Afrikaner, Camilla Jo-Ann Daries, Robert Hara Gaeb
  • Year: 2019
  • Language: English

Baxu and the Giants is a Namibian film about Rhino poaching in the Namibian countryside. Though the short movie’s primary audience is the youth as the initial purpose for producing it was to sensitize teens about wildlife crime in Namibia, the content is deemed relevant to people of all ages. Its relevance also extends to all organizations and communities that are feeling the effects of poaching as well as the global audience.

With a young girl named Baxu serving as the lead character, the plot follows her as she experiences animal poaching firsthand. She also came face to face with brutality and the effects it portends for her rural community. Baxu’s concern about the marauding poachers hit zenith level when it became glaring that her already impoverished family is among the worst hit of the incident.

The 29-minute bilingual fiction x-ray’s the theme of poaching and its prevalence in the black continent, especially on Rhinos which are considered to be the most endangered exotic wildlife on the African continent. The Andrew Botelle-produced movie bagged three Namibian movie awards, including the Best Editing category. Besides, it earned Camilla Jo-Ann Daries the Best Female Actor. You can go ahead and enjoy the movie on Netflix.

14. Lara and the Beat

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Tosin Coker
  • Cast: Seyi Shay, Vector, Somkele Iyamah, Wale Ojo, Sharon Ooja, Shaffy Bello
  • Year: 2018
  • Language: English

From the directorial portfolio of Tosin Coker, Lara and the Beat depicts the real-life story of the Nigerian Giwa sisters who found themselves neck-deep in a financial tussle in their deceased parent’s media outfit. The sisters had always enjoyed a privileged existence, thus, the setback was a very hard blow to take. After one of them volunteered to learn the ropes of the family business in a bid to keep the legacy alive, she discovered a lot of off-putting facts which includes the company’s non-compliance with the tax authorities. Needless to say that offsetting an outstanding debt of such magnitude cost a fortune in funds, sending the media business on the road to financial difficulties.

This coming of age movie that was brought to life by Nigerian veterans like Seyi Shay, Vector, Somkele Iyamah, and Wale Ojo, premiered on the 8th of July 2018 and has since earned a place among the best African movies on Netflix.

15. Trip to Jamaica

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Director: Robert Peters
  • Cast: Ayo Makun, Funke Akindele, Nse Ikpe Etim, Dan Davies, Eric Roberts, Alpho A’Qen,
  • Year: 2016
  • Language: English:

This Robert Peters-directed movie on Netflix is a good pick for those who love comedy. Its stellar cast includes the likes of Ayo Makun and Funke Akindele which make it a must-watch. It features Akpos who pops the big question to his love interest Bola. The marriage proposal happened during the popular annual Lagos Fiesta event and Akpos did not go to meet Bola to propose, rather he did it on his mobile via a live telecast. Following Bola’s response which was in the affirmative, the enthusiastic lovebirds went on a planned vacation to the US where they spent quality time before deciding to go live in a mansion in Jamaica.

Unknown to the duo, trouble looms ahead as they got entangled in a drug baron’s run which led to Akpos being arrested. Consequently, the couple had no choice but to take the decision to come home to Nigeria.

Recap of the Best African Movies to Watch on Netflix

1. The Burial of Kojo

2. Atlantics

3. Vaya

4. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

5. Lionheart

6. October 1

7. The Figurine

8. King of Boys

9. Catching Feelings

10. Road To Yesterday

11. Azali

12. Kalushi

13. Baxu and the Giants

14. Lara and the Beat

15. Trip to Jamaica

Chacha
Chacha is a writer with a wealth of experience who has contributed across several channels. Her specialty includes celebrity lifestyle including how top movie stars, musicians, and comedians live their lives.
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