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.”