Queen Elizabeth II smiling at children waving Kenyan flags and the Union Jack, getting off the ‘royal train’ or shaking hands with a curious little boy – these are all never-before-seen images from a huge archive taken by the famed photojournalist Mohammad Amin. Updates on Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral
The black and white photographs of the Queen, shown exclusively to AFP, reflect an unprecedented level of access today, with Amin capturing candid snaps of the monarch chatting with three Kenyan presidents.
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Elizabeth II, who died last week aged 96, had a close relationship with Kenya. She heard the news of her father’s death during her first visit to the former British colony in 1952. She arrived princess and left queen.
Amin covered all of his trips to Kenya as a monarch.
A prolific journalist whose harrowing images of the Ethiopian famine in 1984 drew global attention to the crisis, Amin has taken some three million photographs.
He spent decades running his company Camerapix – which provided video and images to several news outlets – before his tragic death in a 1996 plane hijacking, aged just 53.
His son Salim Amin now runs Camerapix and manages his father’s huge private archive in Nairobi – filled with photos that have never been on public display.
Despite being “a child of colonialism” – born to a South Asian family in Tanzania – Amin rarely expressed an opinion on the royal family, his son said.
“He couldn’t afford to have an opinion because it would affect his job,” he told AFP.
But Amin never kowtowed to authority or discriminated between princes and the poor, his son added, describing how a chance encounter in Saudi Arabia with a bodyguard of exiled dictator Idi Amin helped him get an exclusive interview with Uganda’s so-called Butcher.
“If he hadn’t been friends with the bodyguard (in Uganda), he wouldn’t have had the interview!”
– Google Archive –
The Queen’s death has raised questions about Britain’s colonial past and the abuses committed by British authorities across Africa, including during her reign.
In this context, Amin’s achievements bear witness to a triumph against all odds.
A self-taught photographer, he often encountered racism on the pitch, with officials automatically deferring to his white colleagues.
But he also saw his identity as a source of strength.
“He realized that the fundamental reason he was successful was because he was local… (because he) knew the continent inside and out,” his son said.
In 1992, Amin was honored by the Queen and made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
As well as covering the Ethiopian famine, when his footage rocked the world in a massive relief effort, including the massively successful “Live Aid” concert, Amin was front row seat to virtually every major event on the continent.
Last year, Google Arts & Culture created an online archive to catalog his work in collaboration with the Mohamed Amin Foundation.
Over 6,000 photos have already been uploaded to the digital archive.
More could follow, including these rare shots of Elizabeth II.