Vintage Africa: A Quick Time Trip Back In Black, White And Sepia

March 25, 2015

Photography arrived in Africa shortly after the technology was introduced commercially in 1839. By 1880, it was widely practiced in Africa. White traders, explorers and adventurers first spread the use of the technology, according to a 2013 book on the subject, “Portraiture and Photography In Africa.”

Photos were taken initially by French and British Naval officers. Missionary societies soon realized the medium’s potential and Africans appropriated the technology and began to work as photographers, seeking clients who wanted their likenesses taken and had the cash to pay for it.

There are many unanswered questions about who the first African photographers were. One pioneer was African-American Augustus Washington, who moved to Liberia in the 1850s and ran photo studios in Senegal, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Here’s a few photos that capture images of vintage Africa. Take a quick time trip back in black, white and sepia.

Chief Kingo by C Vincenti, 1898


Chief Kingo

In this 1898 photo by C Vincenti, an African chief appears in a portrait with a woman.

Algeria woman clothes


Algerian woman in costume

This photo of an Algerian woman was shot in 1870 by French photographer A. Bertrand.

By Dana Sanchez AFKI Original Published: March 24, 2015, 12:46 pm

Vintage Couthinho Brothers Studio Photo, Main Road, Zanzibar


 Main Road, Zanzibar island village, Tanzania

This 1895 photo shows a peaceful scene on the main road of a Zanzibar village. The photo was shot by the Coutinho Brothers.

Madagascar Tananarive Scene de Rue Ancienne


Rue Ancienne, Tananarive, Madagascar, 1900

This 1900 vintage photo is credited to an anonymous amateur photograph. It was shot on Rue Ancienne in Tananarive, the capital of Madagascar.

nyatiti player

Nyatiti Player

A Luo man strums his eight-stringed nyatiti in Nyanza, Kenya in 1936.

patterned tanzanian woman

Patterned woman

A Tanzanian woman in 1936, with cicatrice patterns on her face.

somalia 1936


Somali funeral procession

This photo shows a funeral procession in Mogadishu in 1936.

queen in benin city

Queen Elizabeth II in Benin City

Queen Elizabeth II visited Benin City, Nigeria, in February 1956. In this photo she is meeting the Oba (king) of Benin at the Benin Aerodrome. Prince Philip can be seen on the extreme right of the photo.

eritrea train

Eritrean Railroad

John Brantley snapped this photo of the Asmara-to-Massawa railway in what is now modern-day Eritrea, while he was posted to Kagnew Station in the late 1940s. A railway line between Massawa to Bishia was built in the early 20th century by the Italians, but it was destroyed by warfare in subsequent decades. It was rebuilt between Massawa and Asmara in the 1990s after Eritrean independence, and 1930s vintage Fiat Littorina railcars now operate on it.

port harcourt kingsway

Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Here’s a photo from around 1960 of the shop at 120 Kingsway, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

rue de rome tunis

Rue de Rome, Tunis

Tunis had an extensive tram system back in the 1930s, which is when this photo was taken of the tram stop at the Rue de Rome.

Throwback Thursday Photo Of The Day: Traditional Nigerian Masks

Nigerian masquerade

These traditional Nigerian masks were worn by the Isu tribe (part of the Igbo) during the Okorosia masquerade in 1931.

Throwback Thursday Photo Of The Day: De Waal Drive, Cape Town

De Waal Drive, Cape Town

De Waal Drive is one of the most scenic lookout points in Cape Town. The view has changed a bit since 1933 when this photo was taken.

Throwback Thursday Photo Of The Day: Dhow In Zanzibar

Dhow in Zanzibar

A dhow fishing boat rests on calm waters in the trading port of Zanzibar. The date of this photo is unknown



Photography of Musa Katuramu (1913-1986), Uganda

At a time when most camera owners were non-native missionaries and colonists, Musa Katuramu began documenting his community in Western Uganda in the 1930s. A carpenter and teacher from Toro, he worked with a basic camera and built his studios on site. Katuramu would go around his neighborhood shooting portraits of family and friends.

Source: AFK Insider

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