The Mohamed Amin Foundation was established in 1998, shortly after the death of Mohamed Amin, the legendary photojournalist from Kenya whose compelling and compassionate footage of the Ethiopian famine sparked Band Aid, We Are The World and the Live Aid concerts. Mo, as he was most widely known in the news world, died aboard a hijacked airliner in 1996.
The Foundation commits resources to the kind of active citizenry that champions the preservation of our heritage, the conservation of our environment, the education of our people, and actively promotes nation building.
Our first project, being a NGO media-training centre based in Nairobi, Kenya, was to raise the standard of communication in East Africa by delivering solid international skills training to students from East Africa. The students were selected for their desire and ability in the field of journalism and filmmaking. The NGO operates from the studios of the late Mohamed Amin and has over the years, developed into the most recognized and respected media-training centre in East Africa, with its alumni becoming key members of both the journalism and production industries in East Africa.
Now with the addition of the Mohamed Amin Collection of archives, the Foundation aims to educate and administer systems related to the long-term storage, preservations, restoration, and organization of motion picture images, still photos, and printed materials in a searchable format for future use, including but not limited to, the historic images in the archives of Mohamed Amin and related documentarians focused on African content.
Since Mo Amin’s death, an inconspicuous back room in Nairobi has been locked off from the public, maintained only by two solitary sentries stationed between file cabinets in a windowless, climate controlled vault.
Now, after years of frame-by-frame cataloguing and the digitization of thousands of hours of raw video files, the Mohamed Amin Collection is opening its doors for exploration and exhibition.
With over 8,000 hours of raw video footage and approximately 3.5 million still photographs taken between 1956 and 1996, the Collection represents one of the world’s largest photographic archives, a visual documentation of the key historical events that helped to shape post-colonial Africa, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This timeless work of art features culture, conflict, political upheaval, wildlife, entertainment, and an unparalleled visual chronicle of the daily life of millions of Africans.
In a career that spanned more than 30 years, Mo Amin was the “eyes and ears” on the frontline, having covered every major event in modern African history.
The vision of the Foundation would be to create a series of audio-visual curricula covering the political, cultural, social and environmental history of the Continent over the last five decades. This curricula would be developed in partnership with academic institutions and scholars both within and outside of the Continent, and have versions that will target primary, secondary and tertiary schools. In Africa, the Foundation would endeavor to donate the curricula to all public primary and secondary schools in sub-Saharan Africa. Private schools and tertiary institutions would have access to the content for a reasonable fee. A partnership with an NGO or Foundation whose focus is education in Africa would be sought after to enable the development of the curricula and the digitization and distribution of the content to educational institutions around the Continent.
The Mohamed Amin archive is not just about preserving the continent’s history, it’s also a tool to encourage debate and dialogue. One day, when we are all gone, students and researchers, as well as ordinary Africans, will hopefully be able to get to know the individuals who shaped the most important historic moments in Africa and make up their own minds about them — at a human level.
In the words of Spanish philosopher and poet, George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”