Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have been photographing the rituals and ceremonies of Africa for over 45 years, travelling to 46 African countries and visiting more than 150 ethnic groups. They are considered the most famous photographers in the field of African cultural traditions. Over 40% of the rituals and ceremonies they photographed, no longer exist today.

Their work includes, amongst others, 17 books. Their photographs have been published in international magazines such as National Geographics and can be seen in exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide. In addition to their photographic work, which now comprises more than half a million photographs and negatives, they also produced a number of films.

Their double volume, “African Ceremonies”, a pan-African study of rituals and transitional passages from birth to death, won the United Nations “Award of Excellence” for “vision and understanding the role of cultural traditions in the pursuit of world peace“. Established by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher in 2004, their foundation, African Ceremonies Inc. seeks to preserve the strength, essence and creativity of African cultures for the history of mankind and for the education of future generations. More information…

The non-profit association Afro Project e.V. is the organizer of the largest and oldest festival of African music and culture in Europe for 32 years. Every year more than 80,000 visitors come to the Talavera Mainwiesen in Würzburg to experience the richness of the African continent. In addition to various traditional and modern concerts from Africa, exhibitions and other cultural events always take place at the International Africa Festival. In the past Afro Project e.V. has also organized exhibitions with the photos of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher.

Afro Project e.V. also supported different projects in Africa. For two years the members of the team helped Youssou N´Dour´s festival DK 24 (24 hours of music in Dakar in 2000 and 2001) and also supported in 2003/2004 the Festival au Desert in the North of Mali. The organization has a big musical archive and will make parts of it accessible for the Africa Online Museum. According to Mohamed Choukri: “If language is the key to a culture, then music is the key to the soul of this culture.” More information…

In order to preserve and recognize the rich heritage of cultural traditions in Africa, the two non-profit organizations Afro Project e.V. as organizer of the International Africa Festival and African Ceremonies Inc. have agreed to jointly establish the “Africa Online Museum”.
The Online Museum can be used by future generations worldwide free of charge. As a compendium of human creativity in Africa, the Online Museum is valuable for historians, artists and musicians, anthropologists and ethnologists, filmmakers, collectors, writers, students and the general public. The University of Würzburg is the patron of the project. With its Africa Centre, it will connect with students and professors at African universities, so they can learn from the wisdom of Africa’s ancient cultures for the future of the next generations.

In the symbolic language of the Ashanti in Ghana there is the famous motif “Sankofa”. The word itself says that it is never too late to reclaim the past. The Africa Online Museum wants to contribute to Africa’s recognition of its own rich cultural heritage and allow the past to guide the present.

“The past never ages, it only blends with the present and the present generation has the task of retrieving the past for future generations.“ Kobia Bucknor

Dr. Stefan Oschmann, Würzburg, 10.6.2020