For as much as the internet has made the world feel smaller, general knowledge of other cultures doesn’t seem to have increased much. Some still just think of the Serengeti — lions, acacia trees, croc-infested rivers — when they think of Africa. But we’re talking about a continent with more than three times the area of the continental U.S. To try to sum it up with one simple image is like saying a McDonald’s in an Omaha strip mall offers a comprehensive representation of America’s landscape.
Point being: Africa is vast, it contains multitudes.
Enter the Everyday Africa project. Launched in 2012 on Tumblr and Instagram by photojournalists Austin Merrill and Peter DiCampo, the project “aims to fill in the gaps of news reporting that fail to shed light on everyday life in Africa.”
It’s an issue close to Merrill and DiCampo’s hearts. The pair stumbled into the idea of the Everyday Africa while they were covering a story on violence, refugees, and rape victims in the Ivory Coast. Between the serious stuff, they started photographing the mundane, personal moments that they saw happening around them.
“We’ve asked several thousands of Middle School and High School students in the U.S. what word first comes to mind when they hear Africa,” DiCampo told TIME last year. “They say ‘poverty,’ ‘conflict,’ ‘disease,’ the word ‘Ebola’ is thrown out, followed by the word ‘AIDS’. Then they go into what I call the Lion King category and start listing animals. That is generally all we think about when we think of Africa…and that can change.”
Change is what Everyday Africa is all about. Now, four years after its conception, the project has nearly 300 thousand Instagram followers and has expanded to include works from 18 different photographers, some of whom were born in Africa themselves.
Everyday Africa isn’t stopping with social media, though. They’ve just partnered with UGallery for an exhibit of 60 photos from the project. 12’’ x 12’’ prints are available now through April 18 for purchase from UGallery for $100, the net proceeds of which will fund further educational initiatives and an upcoming Everyday Africa book project.
“Our mission is to support working artists from Ukraine to Argentina, and now the African continent,” said Alex Farkas, UGallery director and co-founder. “The rise of mobile photography offers an incredible window into parts of the world that have been largely unseen. We are thrilled to launch this partnership with Everyday Africa and promote their message to our global audience.”
Check out a selection of the Everyday Africa photos below, and the stories behind some of the incredible shots.
“A danfo, or shared taxi, navigates a rainy road in Lagos, Nigeria.”
“Brothers pose for a photo in the Iwaya community of Lagos, Nigeria.”
“Three boys from the junior school at Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya, race on the school’s track in the morning prior to the start of the day.”
“The Ken Fac troupe, from Kensington, marched through the streets of Parkwood this afternoon before attending the final completion of the 2013 Minstrel Carnival in Athlone. The day started great for Ken Fac placing second overall in the carnival but ended horribly when one of their members was stabbed to death on their bus enroute to the after celebration. The stabbing was done by a group of youth trying to get a free ride on their bus that had no affiliation with them.”
“A bride in Kano, Northern Nigeria, poses for photos with her friends.”
“A young boy grips his model airplane and looks out the window of a bus shuttling passengers between a plane an the airport terminal in Bamako, Mali.”
“A young boy sells carrots outside of a bus station in Bamako, Mali.”
“Fatoumata Diallo, 20-year-old student, Fafacourou village, southern Senegal.”
“People wait hours for their photos to be printed in a lab in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“Bubu, an orphaned chimpanzee found alone in the forest as a baby, swings from a tree branch with the help of one of the many park rangers who cares for her in Buba, Guinea Bissau.”
“Congolese refugee. Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“Viewing a solar eclipse in Accra, Ghana.”
“Celline at home in Paradise, a community center her mother runs in Kibera, and home to over 40 abandoned children, battered women, and rape victims. Though not even out of secondary school, Celline Akinyi, 17, has already built a grassroots fashion business to help support herself, and empower other women. Taking inspiration from her home in Kenya’s largest slum, Kibera, and fashion magazines, Celline redesigns used clothing sent to Africa as donations, and sold at small stands on the outskirts of the slum.”
“A woman photographs children playing in the ocean in Grand-Bassam, a popular beach community outside of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.”