Africa: Beyond the Stereotypes | People & Places | Smithsonian
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Africa: Beyond the Stereotypes

In a single day 95 photographers document a wildly diverse continent bursting with energy and promise

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Send 95 photojournalists around the African continent on the same day, and what do you get? Pictures that belie the clichéd expectations. A prosperous black family enjoys breakfast in a sparkling kitchen near Johannesburg, South Africa. Denim-clad girls giggle in Cape Verde. Mauritius shopkeepers stand at a counter of jewellike candies. A snowplow traverses Morocco’s white-topped Atlas Mountains. Africa, which is three times the size of the United States, contains 53 nations, 720 million people and more than 800 ethnic groups who speak nearly 1,000 languages. That diversity comes across in the 250 photographs taken on February 28, 2002, that appear in A Day in the Life of Africa, published by the Tides Foundation and Group Nine. Yes, the photographers encountered ragged poverty, fouled water, armed rebels. And AIDS. The disease has killed 12 million Africans, and some 25 million more are HIV-positive. (All publishing profits from the book will support AIDS education throughout Africa.) Mostly, the book portrays a hopeful, beautiful continent "vitally anxious," in Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu’s words, "for democracy and self-determination."

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