A grand year for African photography it was with the last major event being Addis Foto fest 2016, the fourth edition of the unique international photography festival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Unique, because it’s the only festival of its kind in East Africa and one of the only ones on the continent; the festival has been running since 2010 every 2 years. This year, at its largest, the festival exhibited 134 photographers from 40 countries and hosted multiple collections and workshops. Preceding Addis foto fest was Lagos Photo, the international photography festival in Nigeria, that ran in October (which interestingly also launched in 2010) and FIFCV- Festival Internacional de Fotografia de Cabo Verde, that ran for a month from mid- November to December in Cabo Verde (launched in 2014).
African photography also had an impressive impact on the UK photography scene this year. In particular at Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB) with a theme of fashion, body image and gender, African photographers and aspects of African culture played a dominant role. This included ‘The Dandy Lion Project‘, a screening of the documentary film “The Importance of Being Elegant”, depicting the Sapeurs through Papa Wemba’s Congolese music group and ‘Fashion Cities Africa’ the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion at the Brighton museum (on until January 8th).
At 1:54 the Contemporary African Art Fair, there was also an exceptional amount of photography this year along with Somerset House exhibiting the photography of Malick Sibidé from the 60’s (on until February 26th). Unbelievably, the late Malian photographer never had a solo exhibition in the UK before.
“Most stories told in western media about the continent of Africa leave negative connotations, It’s Africa’s turn to change the narrative and tell our own stories. It’s Africa’s turn to portray the Africa we know, the Africa we see and the Africa of our dreams.” Says Aaron Yeboah Jr., Ghanaian-born visual creative, designer and curator of African Lens, an independent publication featuring and celebrating African photographers both in the motherland and across the diaspora.
At the entrance to the ‘Fashion Cities Africa’ exhibition, a quote from designer Tiffany Amber is displayed “The time for Africa is now. The world is looking to us for inspiration”.
In 2016, there seems to finally be a proud collective consciousness that it’s time for African photographers to reclaim their representation of Africa. To celebrate this I’ve put together a f list of 10 rising stars of African photography who made a mark in 2016.
Eric Gyamfi- born in Ghana, based in Northern Ghana.
Sarah Waiswa- born in Uganda, based in Nairobi, Kenya – http://www.sarahwaiswa.com
Ima Mfon- based in Lagos, Nigeria: http://mfon.com
Kudzanai Chiurai – Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, based in Johannesburg, South Africa http://www.lagosphotofestival.com/exhibit/genesis
Ramzy Bensaadi- based in Oran (Wahran), Algeria
Andrea Keyezua- based in Angola.http://keyezuavision.tumblr.com
Yafet Daniel- born and based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Meklit Mersha- based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. https://www.instagram.com/meklitmersha
Tahir Karmali- Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya based in Brooklyn, NY http://tahirk.com
Maheder Haileselassie Tadese- based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – http://www.maheder.photography/galleries/home/