Salim Amin: telling untold stories This is what the son remembers of his father: seeing him waking up early in the morning, working at his enormous office in Lavington, Nairobi whistling allegro con fuoco as he goes, and staying in there until late at night. He remembers sitting in a boardroom with Camerapix employees and being treated like one himself.
SON OF A LEGEND: Salim Amin
he son remembers missing his father when he was out of the country for days on end, documenting stories from war-torn Somalia, the harsh plateau of Korem in Ethiopia or the green jungles of Congo. The son remembers visiting Buckingham Palace and bowing his head in a show of respect to her majesty, he remembers posing for photos with some of the most powerful people in the world, of seeing the face of his father in hundreds of newspapers from different news firms. The son counts himself as fortunate to call Mohamed (Mo) Amin, his father. Mo Amin was the most iconic African photojournalist of the 20th century, a man who captured some of the world’s most powerful images. Salim Amin, 46, the only child of Mohamed Amin, is a big man, standing an impressive six feet and change, but his imposing appearance is offset with a ready smile and amiable nature. He is the chairman of A24 Media, a media outfit that has more than two dozen employees with a chain of stringers operating across the rest of the continent and other parts of the world. Like his father, he has a heart for telling positive African stories to the rest of the world, avoiding the stereotypical negative narrative from Western media outlets that has been blitzing the world. “I realised a long time ago that most people are never satisfied with what they have done and always wish they could do
Salim and Mo Amin – a favourite father-son snapshot, taken during a working safari more; I am no different. I will always feel that I should and could do more but I also have put some perspective on things that I can control,” Amin enthuses. “I have realised that there are only so many hours in a day and so many days in a year and you have to do whatever you can to make the most of these … and be satisfied that you have tried your best.” “People often want to talk about Africa and its history as if it died with my dad or years ago,” he says. “The fact is, Africa is always changing and the past hard news has given way to a bright future and my dad’s legacy lives on.” A24 Media under his leadership is a custodian to more than three million images that have been carefully archived for current and future use. This body of work is a lot of his father’s doing and Salim’s efforts for the past 10 years have been directed towards modernising Mo’s legacy. “At this point the central focus of all our
Salim at work on The Scoop
efforts is to grow and expand A24 Media,” he explains. ‘We are producing some of the best and most unique content in Africa and we are looking at all the different platforms to distribute and hopefully earn a decent revenue. We will continue to produce unique content and work with our historical archives to create new and exciting content.” Salim also runs his own TV show. “The Scoop is my show and was something my dad could only dream about,” he animatedly adds. “We want to champion all the shows that are no longer themed on wars and corruption but are crafted for the modern African viewer.” In addition to The Scoop in this regard, A24 also produces shows like Upbeat and a CCTV documentary series. He urges African governments to promote local talent with all the resources they have. “I think governments have to recognise the importance of content producers in
their countries and work with them to be able to tell the real story of this continent,” he says. “We are the best platform for promoting the achievements, successes and beauty of our countries and continent. Governments need to see that and work with us instead of against us. They should put resources into training and nurturing young talent and giving them a creative space to work in.” While preserving and promoting his father’s legacy, the son also wants to carve out his own. “I want to be remembered as someone who tried to change the conversation about Africa, who tried to change the perception of the continent, who tried to change the image many people have of Africa. If I manage to help tell some of the great untold stories of this continent, then I feel I will have contributed something worthwhile in shaping Africa’s history and build my own legacy separate to my father’s.” – Sam Charo May 2016 | SCREENAFRICA | 29