African Photography Initiatives (APhI) was founded in 2007 by Jürg Schneider and Rosario Mazuela. Led by our enthusiasm for the African continent’s rich visual heritage, in particular photographs, and building on our work experience in the areas of culture, international cooperation and academic research we decided to create an organization entirely dedicated to African photography and photo archives in Africa. In 2007 we had the opportunity to do research in the Burundian press archives, the Agence Burundaise de Presse (ABP) which still exists. We discovered a rich photographic fund dating back to the late 1950s when the Belgian colonial administration created an Information Office with offices both in Kinshasa and Bujumbura. Our work in the ABP archives eventually led to an exhibition in the French cultural centre which was extremely well-frequented and, like the exhibition catalogue, well received by the local press.  Since then African Photography Initiatives has been involved in a number of archive, exhibition and publication projects, mainly in Cameroon, which in some way or other had the common goal to save and promote African photography and the continent’s many endangered photo archives.

More specifically, the main objectives of African Photography Initiatives (APhI) are:

  • The protection of African photo archives as places of historical visual memories through conservation measures, digitization and storage.
  • The sensitisation of governments, academic institutions and the general public for the vulnerability and value of a nations visual heritage.
  • Support and advise governments, institutions and individuals in their endeavour to make photographic material accessible to the public.
  • Develop and discuss ideas how to cope with the archival challenge, in extremis a digital void, posed by the fact that African photography, as elsewhere, has entered the digital age.

Jürg Schneider, PhD (University of Basel, 2011) is a researcher affiliated with the University of Basel. His doctoral thesis “Exploring the Atlantic Visualscape. Eine Geschichte der Fotografie in West und Zentralafrika, 1840-1890″ will be published in a revised version soon. His writing on historical and contemporary African photography and photography in Africa appears in various journals and books.

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Rosario Mazuela, graduated in Philology at the University of Granada in 1987. She holds a postgraduate diploma in Development Studies (University of the Basque Country/Spain) and in Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Studies (University of Bujumbura/Burundi-Chair UNESCO). She has extensively worked in Sub-Saharan African countries as a program manager for humanitarian, development and cultural projects.

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