Annie Risemberg
Annie Risemberg is a documentary photographer and photojournalist currently based in Bamako, Mali, having previously been based between Philadelphia, PA and Accra, Ghana. She studied fine art photography in college, but later turned towards photography as a means to tell stories that she felt were underreported. Her work has been published in Reuters, AFP, Associated Press, Roads and Kingdoms, and Al Jazeera English. Her focuses in the U.S. and abroad have generally included migration, Islam, social issues, and daily life. She has mostly been drawn to stories that contribute to a more nuanced narrative.
When Allah Created You
At one time, most Muslims in the U.S. were African-American. Today, they make up 40 percent of native-born U.S. Muslims – a minority, but a significant one. Yet depictions of American Muslims rarely include African-Americans. The history of Islam in America does not begin with immigrants, but with slaves. Many slaves brought to the Americas were Muslims from West Africa, and some were able to hold onto their religion. “The first Muslims to observe Ramadan in America were slaves who snuck off into the fields to pray”, says Qasim Rashad, the Amir of United Muslim Masjid in South Philadelphia. It wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that African-Americans converted to Islam in large numbers, and from that time the community has grown significantly. Many were originally drawn to Nation of Islam. In the 1970s, Warith Deen Mohammad led most of the Nation’s followers towards traditional Sunni Islam. Today, many African-American Muslims living in American cities were born into the religion. Philly is among the U.S. cities with the largest numbers of African-American Muslims. These photos are from an ongoing project attempting to document religious practice in this community. As America continues to grapple with Islamophobia, it is important that we are aware of Islam’s history in the country and of those who laid the foundation for Islam in America. The title comes from a talk given by Iesha Prime at Philadelphia Masjid in 2017: “It may look like we’re down and out. It may look like as a community, we’re behind. But in reality – when Allah created you, specifically – Allah created your language and your colors for a reason’.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.