SOAS University of London

African Photographs

by George Rodger
13 April - 25 June 2004

Magnum Photos, in association with the School of Oriental and African Studies, are pleased to present, The African Photographs by George Rodger:

A founding member of the Magnum Agency, George Rodger's enduring passion, represented in this exhibition, was Africa. Rodger's career began in the early days of the Second World War when he covered the Blitz of London and Coventry for Life magazine. It was Life who gave him his first commission in Africa in 1941 where he recorded the struggle of the Allies and their supporters against the forces of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He was to return in 1947, to forget the horrors of war, as a member of the newly founded Magnum Agency, beginning a two-year overland journey from Cape Town to Cairo.

Rodger visited Nigeria, Uganda and Lamberene in Gabon. He gained unprecedented access to the Nuba tribe in Southern Sudan and the Masai warriors of Kenya, photographing their way of life and secret ceremonies.

Rodger who was as born in Cheshire in 1908 of Scottish descent, had a deep personal involvement with the plight of the Nuba people in Southern Sudan. In 1978 he was awarded an Arts Council bursary to return once again to Africa and photograph the tribes he had first encountered thirty years before. Up until the weeks before his death in 1995 he was still actively involved in supporting the Nuba, whose very existence has remained threatened.

Four photographers – Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David "Chim" Seymour, founded the photographer's cooperative Magnum Photos in 1947. They created Magnum to reflect their independent natures as people and photographers, an idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum, emphasizing not only what is seen but also the way one sees it. Magnum photographers continue to chronicle the world and interpret its peoples, events, issues, and personalities