The Birth of Humanity on Nat Geo

National Geographic exclusive to DStv, channel 181, will be churning out must-see content in 2016.

The National Geographic brand is bold, distinctive, awe-inspiring and meaningful and 2016 will see programmes that embody what the brand stands for, with great entertainment value. As the channel continues with the new strategy of quality over quantity, the channel, exclusive to DStv, channel 181, will be churning out must-see content in 2016.

Kicking off on Sunday 7 February at 20:05 is the specially made documentary for National Geographic TV and NOVA PBS, Homo Naledi: Dawn of Humanity chronicling one of the great fossil-finds of our time. Paleoanthropologists discovered over 15 000 bones deep within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system located in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa. Filmed as the discoveries were made, this programme goes a long way in filling in a mysterious million-year gap in the fossil record of our evolution. It covers the crucial transition from the ape-like Australopithecus to the first members of our own Genus, the genus Homo – the first humans.

Following that will be He Named Me Malala, the truly inspirational story of Nobel Peace Prize Laurate Malala Yousafzai who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The documentary will be screened on Monday 29 February and is in collaboration with FOX Searchlight Pictures, National Geographic Channel and National Geographic Society, airing on National Geographic Channels in 171 countries.

The documentary offers a look into Malala’s life both before and following the attack. Fifteen at the time of the incident, she was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education. The shooting sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. Malala miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund. A moving theme of the film is the bravery that Malala and her father show when they speak out for their beliefs in a climate where others are being targeted for doing so.

In April, from the third at 20:05, a six-part series called The Story of God, hosted and produced by Morgan Freeman, will explore and seek to understand how religion has evolved throughout the course of civilisation, and in turn how religion has shaped the evolution of society. Although in our current geopolitical landscape, religion is often seen as something that divides, the series illuminates the remarkable similarities among different faiths, even those that seem to be in staunch contrast. This is a quest for God: to shed light on the questions that have puzzled, terrified and inspired mankind, not to mention Freeman himself.

This multidisciplinary and multi-faith series blends science, anthropology, history and personal experience. Freeman tackles the biggest questions of human existence and faith, travelling across the globe to experience the most profound and dramatic expressions of faith, while meeting with scientists who show that the line between religion and science is often more complex and interesting than we previously knew. Epic in scale, intimate in execution, this is the ultimate series on the biggest subject of them all.

To explore each of these topics, host and narrator Freeman went on the ground to some of humanity’s greatest religious sites, including Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, India’s Bodhi Tree, Mayan temples in Guatemala and the pyramids of Egypt. He travelled with archaeologists to uncover the long-lost religions of our ancestors, such as those at the 7 500 BC Neolithic settlement Çatalhöyük in Turkey. He immersed himself in religious experiences and rituals all around the world, and became a test subject in scientific labs to examine how the frontiers of neuroscience are intersecting the traditional domain of religion.

Other premium shows in 2016

Brain Games V – ( February 2016) – As the #1 rated series across the channel worldwide, Brain Games returns in 2016 for its fifth season. Fronted by Jason Silva, the show returns to its roots for hour-long episodes that will resonate with viewers who enjoy smart, entertaining and distinctive content.

Red Planet – (2016) – Set in 2032 and the present day, this series is a unique hybrid of scripted and unscripted elements. It tells the epic story of the thrilling quest to colonise Mars and the first manned mission in 2032 with dramatic scripted drama and feature film-calibre visual effects, intercut with documentary verité and interviews from present-day scientists and innovators who are leading the research and development of space technology, preparing the way for our 2032 mission.

Parched – (2016) – This television miniseries takes a hard-hitting look at the global water crisis that affects billions worldwide: a future where fresh drinking water is alarmingly scarce. Parched takes a definitive look at the water wars that are now upon us, investigating the corporate, political and social interests that are responsible for our water-limited future.