African And Parisian Properties Are Headquarters for å“A Day in the Life of Africaå”
On February 28, 2002 one hundred of the world’s foremost photojournalists, representing 20 countries, took part in one of the most ambitious photographic projects ever attempted; they fanned out across 53 nations to capture the entire African continent on a single day.
The best images will be included in A Day in the Life of Africa, a book, website and travelling exhibition that will represent the most wide-ranging look at Africa ever assembled. From Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope, the African continent is home to a billion people from more than 800 distinct ethnic groups. The breathtaking variety and startling contrasts will make A Day in the Life of Africa the most compelling visual document of 2002. All publishing profits from the book will be used to fund AIDS education programmes in Africa.
The photographers assembled at project headquarters at Le Méridien Montparnasse in Paris where they received training before they were dispatched to their assignments on the African continent. Participating photographers documented locations ranging from Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge to the teeming bazaars of Dakar; from the Congo Basin’s verdant jungles to the stark Saharan wastes, to a packed soccer stadium in Accra.
“We are gratified to know that all proceeds from the book will go towards humanitarian efforts throughout the entire continent and look forward to hosting the ‘Day in the Life’ photographers at our hotels across Africa,” said Hassan Ahdab, regional managing director, Africa & Indian Ocean, Le Méridien.
“Le Méridien is uniquely qualified to act as the official hotel partner of the project, as we have 30 properties there and enjoy a leadership position in Africa.”
In addition to providing accommodation, Le Méridien assigned a staff person at each hotel to handle last-minute details for the photographers. “Our staff were on-call during the shoot to handle any requests that might arise - to arrange anything from obtaining extra camera batteries to hiring translators to preparing a lunch box at short notice. Anticipating our guests’ needs has been a priority for us since the first Le Méridien property opened its doors almost 30 years ago, “said Mr Ahdab.
“The project is a celebration of African life that will actually save African lives,” said project director, David Cohen. “More than 25 million African men, women and children are HIV positive, and every minute two more are infected,” added Cohen, who has directed 11 “Day in the Life” titles. “We’ve produced these projects for 20 years, chronicling cultures around the world. Our goal for this particular endeavour is to raise global awareness of a continent at risk.”
The diverse photo team included more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize, and World Press Photo winners as well as 16 members of the famed Magnum and Vll photo agencies. More than 20 African and African-American photographers participated, providing a crucial perspective on the continent. The entire 100-person photography team was fitted with Olympus E20 and C4040 digital cameras, marking the first time the highly successful “Day in the Life” series utilized digital cameras.
For two decades, the best-selling “Day in the Life” photography books have recorded cultures around the world. Thirteen titles - including volumes on America, China, Russia, and Japan - have collectively sold 2.5 million copies. The current project is being produced by Lee Liberman, who also chairs The Day in the Life of Africa AIDS Education Fund.
A Day in the Life of Africa will be published in the United States and Canada on November 1 2002, through Publishers Group West, North America’s largest independent book distributor, and in Francophone countries through the Editions Filipacchi division of Hachette Filipacchi. The book will also be published in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia. A Day in the Life of Africa will include an introduction by Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
All publishing profits will be used to fund AIDS education programmes in Africa. Programmes will be selected in concert with The Harvard AIDS Institute, South Africa’s renowned Soul City Foundation, and the John Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programmes. Funds will be administered by the Tides Foundation.