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I Am Because We Are

I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb

Betty Press
Proverbs Compiled by Annetta Miller
Foreword by Joanne Veal Gabbin
Introduction by Christiana Chinwe Okechukwu
Afterword by Alison Nordström
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    I Am Because We Are
    Book Description:

    I Am Because We Are features 125 black and white photographs by Betty Press taken all over East and West Africa since 1987, combined with related African proverbs compiled by Annetta Miller, an American born in Tanzania.

    The book highlights the importance of proverbs in educating members of African societies on how to think, how to behave, and how to have a better life. Press took these photographs with the goal of making a significant educational and artistic contribution to the appreciation and understanding of African culture and society as well as our own.

    The photographs of daily life deal with knowledge, cooperation, love, beauty, friendship, hope, humor, sorrow, happiness, gratitude, dance, tradition, faith, peace, war, death, and human relationships. These are the same themes found in African proverbial language. Thus came the natural idea of coupling images with proverbs. Together they offer a powerful expression of African life and the universality of human emotions, ideas, and knowledge.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-000-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 1-1)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 2-3)
    Joanne Veal Gabbin

    I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb is a stunning collection of photographs taken by Betty Press while she lived and traveled in Africa. One hundred and twenty-five photographs have been paired with African proverbs compiled by Annetta Miller, an American born in Tanzania and living in East Africa most of her life. In proverbs, philosophy and poetry have a fine marriage. Such is the relationship between Press’ black and white photographs and the proverbs that root these images in our collective mind and spirit. Though these images are of people living on another continent, speaking...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 4-4)
    Christiana Chinwe Okechukwu

    Proverbs are “the palm oil with which words are eaten” (Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart); they are aphorisms that capsulate a people’s explanation of the origin of the universe. They deal with views on life and existence, being, friendship, values, love, human relations, death, concepts of time: temporality and historicity. More importantly, they are pungent rhetorical weapons used to include and exclude in many cultures. Thus Igbo people have a proverb that says, a tuolu omalu omalu, mana a tuolo ofeke, ofelu isi tinye na-ofia. This means when you use a proverb to talk to the wise, the wise will...

  5. I Am Because We Are: African Wisdom in Image and Proverb
    (pp. 5-166)
  6. Afterword
    (pp. 167-167)
    Alison Nordström

    For many Americans, Africa exists in contradictory imaginings. In Africa we keep both the spare purity of Hemingway’s Kilimanjaro and the sordid horror of Conrad’s dark river. This huge and mysterious continent offers the glamour and romance of Isak Dinesen and the tragedy of our ancestors shipped away, weeping and in chains. Our visual knowledge of this unknown place is as clear, conflicting and untrue as our literary heritage. Africa is starving AIDS orphans and noble Maasai warriors, mass Tutsi graves and giraffes in full gallop on the sun-kissed veldt. It is a place limned for most of us by...

  7. About Books For Africa
    (pp. 169-169)
  8. About the Authors and Contributors
    (pp. 170-170)
  9. Index of Photographs
    (pp. 171-175)
  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 176-177)