Giving Voice | The Photographic Journey of Mohamed Amin
in collaboration with Salim Amin, Camerapix
“Giving voice to stories that are not often told,
to highlight the lives of people living throughout the global south,
and to share the profound beauty and hope found in communities across Africa.“
Born in Kenya in 1943, Mohamed Amin spent much of his historic career working on the African continent.
Since the early years of his adolescence, he has documented events that would soon dominate the news of the main global communication channels. He witnessed and recorded the ups and downs of his beloved continent and beyond, projecting those images all over the world, sometimes shocking, sometimes delighting millions of viewers and newspaper readers. Through the gaze of his camera, he showed the world what some were afraid to see and what most people wanted to ignore.
While building Camerapix into an internationally renowned company, Amin also built an archive of close to 3.5 million still photos and thousands of hours of motion-picture photography.
In a career spanning more than 30 years, “Mo” has covered all the major events in Africa and beyond, challenging 28 days of torture, surviving bombs and bullets and even losing the left arm in an explosion, to emerge as the most decorated cameraman of all time.
His coverage of the Ethiopian famine during 1984 inspired a collective conscience and became the catalyst for Band-Aid, USA for Africa and Live Aid, the largest act of donation capable of saving the lives of millions of men, women and children.
Mo’s extraordinary life was tragically interrupted in November 1996 when the Ethiopian airliner on which he was traveling was hijacked and forced to crash into the Indian Ocean killing 123 people, including passengers and crew members. According to the survivors, Mo died while he was still negotiating with the terrorists.
Mo’s son, Salim Amin, continues to run Camerapix. The company is now in its 55th year as one of Africa’s foremost production companies.
By telling Mo’s story through the power of photojournalism and the beauty and complexity of great art, we plan to share these rare, historic moments that coincided with the course of Mohamed Amin’s artistic and journalistic achievements.
About The Archive
Since 1996 an inconspicuous back room in Nairobi has been locked off from the public, maintained only by two solitary sentries stationed between file cabinets in a windowless, climate-controlled vault.
Now, after years of frame-by-frame cataloging and the digitization of thousands of hours of raw video files, the Mohamed Amin Collection is opening its doors for exploration and exhibition.
The Mohamed Amin Collection includes more than 5000 hours of raw video content and approximately 2.5 million still photographs gathered between 1963-1996. It represents one of the world’s greatest unexploited historical artifacts. It includes unique, high-quality documentation of the events surrounding post-colonial Africa, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This timeless work of art features culture, conflict, political upheaval, wildlife, entertainment, and an unparalleled visual chronicle of the daily lives of millions of Africans.
Bringing Mohamed Amin Collection to the world through exhibitions and publications will also help facilitate the remaining digitization and metadata gathering for the still photos in the collection.
Our mission is to translate and share this body of work with the global public as a way to stimulate dialogue about Africa and Africans. Mohamed Amin was an African. As a photojournalist, Mo never had to parachute into a news story, he was already on the ground working life long contacts with chefs and soldiers, shop owners and security guards, relationships he’d built up during decades of tenacious networking. He was already on the ground retracing routes by Land Rover and Cessna, on motorcycles and on foot, routes through villages and slums, army forts and palaces, coffee shops, corporations and newsrooms in Kenya, the UK, Canada and America starving for a scoop.
Like Africa, Mo was caught up in a tide of change. From humble roots in Dar es Salaam, Mo was swept up by the turmoil of a continent locked in revolution and shackled by poverty. Mo was prolific by any standard, yet his mission was singular in its focus – telling the story of Africa and Africans. And like Africa, Mo’s professional journey included crisis and chaos, beauty and majesty, and a deep, resonate passion for documenting and protecting the best of Africa while moving fearlessly forward into an uncertain future.
Although it’s a rare and sacred thing, a singular event can change a continent … and a man. When millions die as a nation uses food as a weapon of war, the worst instincts of humankind fly in the face of logic and decency. Yet that’s what happened in Ethiopia in 1984. Mohamed Amin was there with his cameras to document the suffering. His images changed the world as the people of Africa and the world responded with one of the greatest acts of philanthropy in human history. The famine was a tipping point for Mo and he changed for the better – he became a better man and a better father. Africa changed for the better as Africans united in their humanity and the quest to overcome the suffering that had long defined nations rooted in the malaise of colonialism and conflict.
Now, by telling Mo’s story through the power of photojournalism and the beauty and complexity of great art, we plan to share the rare, historic moments that coincided with the trajectory of Mohamed Amin’s artistic and journalistic achievements.
The time is right. The continent is immersed in a tide of unprecedented economic, cultural and social development. And the recent history that drives the present – the often turbulent events of the past two generations – is well articulated in the stories and images represented by the Mohamed Amin Collection.
Bringing the Mohamed Amin Collection to the world will also help facilitate the remaining digitization and metadata gathering for the still photos in the collection.
One of the visions of the Project is to create a series of audio-visual curricula covering the political, cultural, social and environmental history of the Continent over the last five decades. This curricula would be developed in partnership with academic institutions and scholars both within and outside of the Continent, and have versions that will target primary, secondary and tertiary schools. In Africa, the Foundation would endeavor to donate the curricula to all public primary and secondary schools in sub-Saharan Africa. Private schools and tertiary institutions would have access to the content for a reasonable fee. A partnership with an NGO or Foundation whose focus is education in Africa would be sought after to enable the development of the curricula and the digitalization and distribution of the content to educational institutions around the Continent.