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Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

A 10-year field project documenting African rituals and rites of passage from birth to death across the continent, this landmark work portrays 93 ceremonies from 26 countries, including initiations, courtship and marriage, royal coronations, including the silver jubilee of an Ashanti king, healing practices, religions including voodoo rituals and death and the journey to the afterworld, including fantasy coffins. It has won numerous awards, including the U.N. Award of Excellence ‘For vision and understanding of the role of cultural traditions in the pursuit of world peace’.

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have expressed their intention to place the Beckwith Fisher Collection – the world’s most extensive photographic archive of traditional African cultures and ceremonies - with an institution to be selected in the coming months. In addition to more than one half million photographic images, the Beckwith Fisher Collection includes diaries, field journals, drawings, video recordings, and museum-scale exhibition materials. This unique archive, created during a thirty-year period of dedicated work, encompasses one hundred and twenty distinct cultures from thirty-seven African countries. The institution to be chosen must be a venue for ongoing study and research, committed to making the Collection accessible to students, scholars, and the general public, thereby insuring that the legacy of Africa’s ancient cultures is preserved and understood by future generations worldwide.
Traditions and ceremonies are disappearing rapidly across Africa. More than thirty percent of what is recorded in the Beckwith Fisher Collection no longer exists. What ceremonies remain are being practiced by an ever-decreasing number of people. Through patience and respect for traditional values, Beckwith and Fisher were able to gain the trust and friendship of African people in order to photograph their most intimate ceremonies and sacred rights, some of which had never before been shared with the outside world. While the time for recording has now largely passed, the documentation and preservation of ancient African cultures is imperative to the historical record of human civilization.
Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher
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Thirty years ago American-born Carol Beckwith and Australian Angela Fisher met in Kenya and began a relationship with the African continent that would profoundly alter and shape their lives. Their journeys would take them over 270,000 miles, through remote corners of 40 countries,