ILLNESS // PHOTOGRAPHS OF SOUTH AFRICANS IN EUROPE IN THE 1800s

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The African Native Choir, 1891 (woodburytype)

These pictures are so unbelievable, I almost don’t believe they are genuine. I feel like they just asked contemporary South Africans to pose in 19th Century fashion but according to a recently published article in The Guardian, which is usually a very reliable source, these photographs are of the members of The African Native Choir, a group of South Africans (a country which hadn’t really been created in 1891) who travelled to Britain in 1891 and had these photographs taken at the London Stereoscopic Company. Can you believe it???? They look like us! I guess it’s because we are them. At that time, the Cape Colony was comprised of Khoi Khoi, Khoi San and various groups that would later form the contemporary Xhosa ethnic group, including amaGcaleka, amaRharhabe, amaGqunukhwebe and AmaMfengu.  My guess is these are Mfengu, and Khoi Khoi and Khoi San because at that stage, those were the only native groups that had consciously assimilated into British Colonial society in the Cape of South Africa, especially amaMfengu. I stand corrected. The only person who has a believable 19th Century face is the woman in the last image, Eleanor Xiniwe. There are more images here of West Indians and other Africans who were photographed in Europe in the late 19th Century. The group shot is sourced from this website.

// Comments (6)
  • Fifi says:

    Wow!!!

    They can’t be real. .. wow

  • Milli Bongela says:

    THEY HAVE PERFECT SKIN!

  • Mandisa says:

    These are almost too good to be true. Soo beautiful.

  • Thando says:

    The familiarity is beautiful, had a look at all the photos, some of the captions were a bit disturbing though like the following; “This man…was part of explorer Guillermo Antonio Farini’s exhibition”. People were “exhibited” back then.

  • Vince Lehata says:

    These are too good to be true, but the the group shot looks genuine though.

  • mfengu dyke_ass says:

    I swear i’ve seen the chick in the first pic up top. Her face is very familiar, pretty sure i bumped into her at kitcheners or something. Jokes aside though Mills, can i call you Mills, the authenticity of these pics is up in the air as far as i’m concerned. I mean with the right wardrobe and a few filters, and then boom, you’ve got a pic that looks like it was taken late 19th century. Let’s not forget we live in the age of photoshop, where anything is possible.

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