Re-framing Africa

Fleur MacDonald in The Economist:

Nana_Kofi_AcquahIn 2012, two years after Instagram launched, photojournalists Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill started Everyday Africa, a feed on the photo-sharing application. On assignment in the Ivory Coast, which was recovering from its second civil war, they posted the photos that newspaper and magazine editors wouldn’t commission: images of an Africa where disease, poverty and war weren’t the focus. The idea took off. The account, which has posted over 3,500 photos, has 300,000 followers; the hashtag #EverydayAfrica has been used more that 179,000 times; and offshoots of the project have sprung up in Asia, India and Latin America. Think-pieces about the project have been published in the very publications that initially spurned such pictures.

The success of Everyday Africa is partly down to the quality of its images. A select group of 30 professional and amateur photographers have the password to the account and permission to post images they’ve taken with their mobile phones. But it also aspires to democratise the dissemination of information through social media – a hope that was particularly prevalent in 2012, when the Arab spring was still fresh in people’s minds – and taps into the widespread belief that the news media only runs negative stories (the hashtag #theafricathemedianevershowsyou has also hit a nerve). Now DiCampo and Merrill have put together a book of images from the project. “Everyday Africa: 30 Photographers Re-picturing a Continent” is square, like an Instagram post. The photographs – of children playing, teenagers flirting, people working and old women gossiping – depict scenes of daily life that will be familiar to everyone, whether African or not. While the book is not as completist as its title makes out – this Africa excludes much of North Africa, as well as Zimbabwe, Chad, Tanzania and Cape Verde – these photographs do give a different impression of a place that has too often been misrepresented by the media.

More here.