Egypt is telling its own version of Cleopatra’s story. African Queen, a Netflix video that portrays Queen Cleopatra as black, was launched on Wednesday despite ongoing controversy. Egypt has responded by launching counterprogramming plans to portray its own version of the ruler’s tale with “the highest levels of research and scrutiny.”
Despite the fact that she died more than two thousand years ago, Cleopatra remains the subject of intense debate. Cleopatra’s ethnicity has long been a source of contention. Some believe she was white Caucasian, while others believe she was black African, and so on. It’s a discussion that has raged for centuries and appears to have no end in sight. The subject came back due to casting news including her in a show. The selection of Adele James, a Black actress, in the role of Cleopatra has caused considerable controversy, with many accusing Netflix of ‘Afrocentrism’ gone too far.
Al Wathaeqya, Egypt’s state-backed documentary channel, has announced plans to make a documentary for United Media Services, the government-owned broadcaster. The announcement comes only days after numerous people in the country objected to the Netflix film because of the Queen’s skin colour. Not just the state but also independent filmmakers want to present their interpretation of the Queen’s life. Curtis Ryan Woodside, a director and Egyptologist, also produced a 90-minute English-language video about Cleopatra VII on his YouTube channel on Wednesday, criticising “biassed” ideas and “misinformed” modern and American iterations of the queen narrated by the Netflix film.
In 69 BC, Queen Cleopatra was born in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria. She replaced her father in 51 BC and ruled until her death in 30 BC, during the Roman Empire’s growth. According to Egyptian experts, she was Macedonian-Greek on her father’s side, Ptolemy XII. Her maternal ancestry, however, is unknown, as is her mother’s ethnic origin. Historians believe she, or any other female ancestor, may have been an indigenous Egyptian or from somewhere in Africa.