Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Crossing the Great Sahara (1924)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Note: This synopsis is based on only the first one and a half reels out of eight, the remainder of which are lost.

The expedition arrives from Liverpool at Lagos, where the travellers are guests of the Governor. Sir Hugh Clifford meets the executive council of Nigeria. The visitors are taken on a motor tour through the Ebute Aro and Faji markets, and are introduced to 'Alhaji Mohammadu Diko, the Emir of Katsina'. The Emir's home is shown, followed by 'dancers of the Emir's household'. Local boys are seen boxing and a group playing musical instruments and dancing, as a title asks 'is this where the blues originated?'

A woman of the Fulani tribe smiles at the camera, before showing a 'tribal custom' and further dancing from the Fulani Hunters, followed by 'the Burutu Dance'. Shots of lean cattle and barren land serve to illustrate the 'continuous battle for existence in an ungenerous land'. 'The primitive interior of a Fulani home' precedes shots of Africans hunting guinea fowl. After further dances - this time a Fulani Cattleman's dance - a map indicates the move from Kano into the Sahara, where the Beri-Beri and Pagan-Hausa bush-people live. The locals contend with locusts and drought, but still enjoy dancing and music. Four men beat a drum ('"The orchestra" - A Pagan Hausa Band,' reads the intertitle) and the sequence concludes with 'Maguzuwa pagans wrestling'.