A Photographer Changes The Focus In Africa

  • Asmara, Eritrea 1993: Eritrea had finally received independence from Ethiopia after a long civil war. "As we toured the city at the end of the day, a group of children were dancing their way home after a soccer game."
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    Asmara, Eritrea 1993: Eritrea had finally received independence from Ethiopia after a long civil war. "As we toured the city at the end of the day, a group of children were dancing their way home after a soccer game."
  • Northern Kenya, 1990: "Maasai men dancing a traditional warrior dance."
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    Northern Kenya, 1990: "Maasai men dancing a traditional warrior dance."
  • Sokode, Togo, 1991: "As part of a micro-finance plan, this woman received a loan to build a second oven so she could expand her bakery business."
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    Sokode, Togo, 1991: "As part of a micro-finance plan, this woman received a loan to build a second oven so she could expand her bakery business."
  • Aba, Nigeria, 1999: "In this maternal hospital clinic, funded by Pathfinder International, mothers receive information about how to take care of themselves as they prepare to give birth."
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    Aba, Nigeria, 1999: "In this maternal hospital clinic, funded by Pathfinder International, mothers receive information about how to take care of themselves as they prepare to give birth."
  • Kigali, Rwanda, 1993: "Maternal health clinics encourage mothers to bring their children for checkups as a way to improve the health of mothers and children."
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    Kigali, Rwanda, 1993: "Maternal health clinics encourage mothers to bring their children for checkups as a way to improve the health of mothers and children."
  • Lagos, Nigeria, 1992: "This man is lifting weights made from scrap metal."
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    Lagos, Nigeria, 1992: "This man is lifting weights made from scrap metal."
  • Djenne, Mali, 1992: In the countryside near Djenne, "we found these unusual, compact villages surrounded by mud walls, with a mosque towering over the homes. After we left the village these children decided to go fishing in a nearby lake."
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    Djenne, Mali, 1992: In the countryside near Djenne, "we found these unusual, compact villages surrounded by mud walls, with a mosque towering over the homes. After we left the village these children decided to go fishing in a nearby lake."

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When photojournalist Betty Press lived in Africa from 1987 to 2009, she wanted to show a continent different than the one usually portrayed in the media — one of poverty, war and famine. Instead, she focused on the beauty, creativity and courage of the people.

These images are now the subject of a book, I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom In Image and Proverb, in which every photo is accompanied by a different African proverb. Press tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Audie Cornish that the photos, along with the proverbs, celebrate life and the concept of ubuntu, the idea of living harmoniously within a community.

The book is self-published in partnership with Books for Africa. Press says it is "dedicated to the African people who were willing to share their lives with the world through her photographs."

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