The Last of the Nuba
Leni Riefenstahl, 1976
Leni Riefenstahl, in her capacity as one of the most important film directors of our time., was the first white woman to obtain permission form the Sudanese Government to study the Nuba. Between 1962 and 1969 she lived intermittently among these mysterious tribes, in remote villages of central Sudan, studying them at close quarters, taking unique and fascinating photographs which now constitute a lasting record of what was once their way of life.
Since the ways of the Nuba and their former tribal structure are gradually yielding to the slow inroads made by civilization even in that remote part of Africa. Leni Riefenstahlís photographs are of permanent anthropological and ethnographic importance.
At he time of Leni Riefenstahís study there were, in the province of Kordofan, Central Sudan, between 8.000 and 10,000 Nuba (out of a total Nuba population of approximately half a million) living far away from civilization. At this time they were surrounded by Arabs settlers. Their ancestors, who lived in the savannahs, fled to the inaccessible mountains some eight generations ago to escape from hostile nomads and Arab slave traders. They have since made peace with their Arab neighbours.
Scientists and ethnologist sadly neglected the Nuba. Since the Austrian anthropologist F.S. Nadel travelled through Nuba territory in the Thirties, and wrote a scientific paper about them, no other attempt had been made to study the life, rites and customs of the Nuba before Leni Riefenstahlís magnificent book repaired this omission by making this classic memorial to these, the most peace -loving people in Africa.
Published by The Harvill Press, London