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JEWISH AFRICA: A Cultural and Historical Photographic Survey – Words and Images from and about Jewish Africa, by Jono David
JONO DAVID is going on a JEWISH SAFARI
Welcome! Thanks for visiting. My blog aims to keep you informed of the adventures, events, and progress of my project, Jewish Africa: A Cultural and Historical Photographic Survey. Come on this great safari with me. I could use the company. To get you acquainted with my mission, here’s an outline of the project. For continued updates, please join my email list. Have fun!
PHOTOGRAPHING JEWISH AFRICA
Jewish Africa: A Cultural and Historical Photographic Survey successfully kicked off in August / September 2012 in South Africa and Zimbabwe. That trip was followed up by a second remarkable journey in January~April 2013 with more work across South Africa, plus Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia.
Here are the stats on legs thus far:
Leg #1 (Aug/Sep 2012), South Africa, Zimbabwe: 8,273 filed images, 6 weeks, 2 countries, from 85 unique locations and including 51 synagogues, 10 cemeteries, and dozens of social and life cycle events, portraits of community members, and much more.
Leg #2 (Jan~Apr 2013), South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia: 10,593 filed images, 9 weeks, 42 cemeteries, 6 museums, 51 synagogues, and dozens of social and life cycle events, portraits of community members, and much more.
Leg #3 in August-September 2013: South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Kenya, Uganda: 3,000 files images, including the fascinating communities of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda and plenty of social events photo opportunities in South Africa and elsewhere.
Leg #4 in February~April 2014: South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda. I’ll be in my base camp of South Africa once again. From Johannesburg, I’ll finally get out to the country communities of Kimberley and Bloemfontein (two previous planned excursions there fell through). I’ll then head to Ghana and Cameroon (a week each) to spend time with the Jews of the House of Israel and Congregation Beth Yeshourun (respectively). After a quick turnaround in Johannesburg, I’ll fly out again to the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) to photograph an old synagogue and a few Jewish cemeteries in the southern city of Lubumbashi and, across the country in the capital of Kinshasa, I’ll photograph Chabad of Central Africa (yep, there’s a yeshiva in the DRC). After catching my breath again in Jo’burg, it’s off to Rwanda for a week. There, I will photograph the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (which features the “Windows of Hope” stained glass by an artist whose father survived Auschwitz) and the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, established “to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, health care, education and necessary life skills (from ASYV website).” It was founded with the support of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, a Jewish organization. The last three weeks of my journey will be spent in Johannesburg (I’ll be there for Purim) and the glorious Cape Town where I intend to fill my time and memory card photographing a number of Jewish events and individuals that shape Jewish South Africa.
These remarkable journeys, the unique experiences they bring, and the welcoming people I have met, inspire me to dream big and will help propel my endeavor to photographically document Jewish life, culture, and history in some 30 nations on the African continent in order to contribute to the diverse Jewish historical record across that great land.
HISTORY — THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN AFRICA
Since the time of Abraham and his wanderings in Egypt, the Jewish people have had a presence in Africa, making some communities the oldest in the world. Communities such as the Beta Israel (Falasha) of Ethiopia and the Lemba of South Africa and Zimbabwe claim descent from ancient Israel (the Lost Tribes of Israel). Furthermore, Jews in Africa are greatly diverse peoples with distinct cultures, languages, and customs. They include the Sephardi and Mizrahi across North Africa, and mostly Ashkenazi Jews from Europe who settled in Southern Africa, particularly in South Africa. In fact, over several recent decades, a number of ethnic groups from around the continent have claimed a Jewish, Hebrew, or Israelite lineage. These groups include, but are not limited to, the Igbo (Nigeria), the Zakhor (Mali), the House of Israel (Ghana), the Tutsi-Hebrews (Rwanda and Burundi), and the Abayudaya (Uganda). Today, no Jewish community in Africa is expanding (though some of the aforementioned groups are). Some are in great peril either in terms of population, economic hardship, political and/or religious pressures, cultural assimilation, or a combination thereof. Many communities have already disappeared, leaving behind their synagogues, cemeteries, homes, buildings, legacies, and contributions to local life. Sadly, in most cases, those communities eventually fall into obscurity.
Though my objectives are many, my main aim is to compile the single largest photographic survey of Jewish life and culture on the African continent compiled by an individual photographer. As a documentarian, my goal is not merely to preserve as much of Jewish Africa in photographs for posterity, but to bring light to communities that have become dark, and to stoke a worldwide (Jewish) consciousness for the long, rich, significant, exciting, and important historical record, past and present, of Jewish Africa. I anticipate filing a minimum of 100,000 photographs. Along the way, I also intend to write about my findings and adventures in Jewish publications and my personal blog, and to publish a book and give presentations once the job is complete (if such a job can ever be complete).
This ambitious mission that I have set out for myself will be no easy undertaking. It will demand a personal commitment much deeper than to any previous Jewish photo tour I have taken to date. Success will also depend greatly upon many, many generous souls both locally and around the world to give of their time and assistance. No matter the results, it will be an amazing journey. I hope that you will come along with me by lending me your support (financially, logistically, spiritually), by following my social network posts and my blog, by developing an awareness of and an interest in Jewish Africa, and by sharing with friends and family whatever bits fire your imagination. SUPPORT OPTIONS and IDEAS include but are not limited to: financial, logistical, publications, exhibitions, publicity. Become a partner today by offering your own measure of support. From $1 to one contact, from one suggestion to one sharing of my work with your friends, your support in whatever form and at whatever level of commitment is a valuable asset in the creation and sustainability of this photo project. To read more on support, check out Check, please! on my blog.
WHERE I INTEND TO PHOTOGRAPH (in alphabetical order): Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Canary Islands* (Spanish archipelago), Cameroon, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madeira* (Portuguese archipelago), Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Réunion* (French Island), Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. (* = politically European but geographically African.)
WHAT I INTEND TO PHOTOGRAPH
Every Jewish cemetery
Jewish holiday and festival events
Monuments, museums, historical sights
Community leaders and members
FURTHER READING ABOUT MY JEWISH AFRICA PHOTO PROJECT — SCATTERLINGS OF AFRICA (Cape Jewish Chronicle, March 2012, Cape Town, South Africa) — project feature. JONO DAVID CARRIES JEWISH FLAME OF MEMORY (South African Jewish Report, Friday, 7 Sep 2012 — pdf, feature on page 12; Johannesburg, South Africa). JEWISH LIFE AROUND THE WORLD (Jewish Life Magazine, Dec 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa).
### end (updated: March 27, 2013, Cape Town, South Africa)
To read more blog posts, CLICK to VISIT: HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library BLOG
ADDITIONAL BLOG POSTS:
“ABAYUDAYA: The Jews of Uganda” (September 5, 2013)
“Out of Jewish Africa” (August 26, 2013)
“A Hectic Week” (August 20, 2013)
“Lady in Red” (August 13, 2013)
“Calendar Uncertainty” (August 9, 2013)
“Africa again” (July 30, 2013)
Slurred Slurs (April 21, 2013)
Check, please! (March 27, 2013)
An Observant Jew (March 17, 2013)
JEWISH STARS: Owen Griffiths (February 19, 2013)
JEWISH STARS: Michael Galaun (February 10, 2013)
JEWISH STARS: Joy Judes (February 2, 2013)
JEWISH STARS: The Travelling Rabbi (February 2, 2013)
From Osaka to Lusaka (December 16, 2012)
Too Much of a Great Thing (September 14, 2012)
Too Much Magic Bus (September 8, 2012)
A Week of Contrasts (August 19, 2012)
110% (August 12, 2012)
Jewish Geography: Africa (July 28, 2012)
When One Door Closes, Many Others Open (July 8, 2012)
A Serendipitous Email (June 20, 2012)
Dark Jewish Star Safari (June 8, 2012)
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