A map of Africa, made by John Cary in 1805 showing the mountains of Kong extending eastwards to the Moon mountains. Source: Wikipedia

Once the 'Mountains of Kong' crossed the African continent. A mountain range from the Niger river's source in West Africa to the White Nile in the east was drawn onto maps for more than a hundred years up until 1995.

However, the mountains were a figment of Scottish 'explorer' Mungo Park's imagination. They didn't exist.

Up to today, mountains of disinformation and stereotype with regard to Africa cloud our understanding of the continent. The image, for example, of 'noble primitives' happily sharing their forests with wildlife in the Congo is as far from reality as the Kong Mountains once were. In reality, hippos trample harvests and bans on hunting cause starvation.

Another picture

Another example is Fairtrade chocolate: interviews by African investigative journalists with a couple of hundred cocoa farmers showed that all they need is better prices -and they are not getting these from Fairtrade.

Another one: did we think that malaria victims receive free medicines from Bill Gates? An upcoming ZAM Transnational Investigation will show that very few Africans receive any medicine for free. And that truckloads of 'free gifts' simply feed into an already corrupt economy, corrupting it even further. In contrast, we will present African health workers' own -very different- ideas and solutions for health care in their countries.

Zanele Muholi

And what to make of the eternal portrayals of LGBT people in Africa as victims, cowering in the closet? On the contrary: struggles by proud LGBT rights activists, and the individuals waging them, are the subject of South African photographer Zanele Muholi, a proud member of our network. (She just won another prestigious prize, folks: the International Centre of Photography's 2016 Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism. Yes!)

Moving the mountains

For now, we just want to say that it's our mission to move the Mountains of Kong. ZAM partners with an African network of 'homegrown' explorers: investigative journalists, photographers, artists and activists. Together, wielding the ZAM bullshit detector, we enable international audiences to see through the mist and discover, instead of a mystical mountain range, a landscape of stories and struggles.

After all, solidarity starts with insight. Help the ZAM network provide that insight.

The ZAM story fund, the ZAM Newsroom and ZAM exchange projects are all geared to get African investigation and inspiration to break through the Mountains of Kong and to break down the walls of stereotype and charity, paving the way for real dialogue and real interaction.

Support the ZAM Network. Support ZAM.

Feel Safe! – The Poster

ZAM's New Year's greeting – a picture shot in Lagos by Pieter van der Houwen – has received numerous accolades. A special edition of 100 copies, 60 x 40 cm, 350 gram posters is now available. Support ZAM with an (extra) gift of €20 or more and receive the poster by snail mail. This special offer is valid until stock lasts.

Your support is our lifeline.

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