Col­leagues pay trib­ute to Sam Nz­ima

The Mercury - - NEWS - Bongani Nkosi and Nady Tembane

LEG­ENDARY pho­to­jour­nal­ist Sam Nz­ima’s fam­ily are happy that the gov­ern­ment did not wait until his death be­fore hon­our­ing him.

He died over the week­end in Mpumalanga at the age of 83.

His son, Thu­lani Nz­ima, told a me­mo­rial ser­vice yes­ter­day that the pho­to­jour­nal­ist, fa­mous for the iconic pho­to­graph of dy­ing school­boy Hec­tor Pi­eter­son in 1976, died just as he was due to move into a house built for him by the Mpumalanga pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

“(For­mer premier) David Mabuza, in par­tic­u­lar, has built a de­cent house for Sam Nz­ima,” Thu­lani said.

“Sadly, Sam was pre­par­ing to move into this house on Thurs­day last week when he re­ceived the keys.

“While he was busy sort­ing out those keys, he col­lapsed with­out hav­ing taken oc­cu­pa­tion of this house.

“That is the sad part. But as I speak to you now, all of us are gath­ered at Sam’s new home,” added Thu­lani.

The me­mo­rial ser­vice Thu­lani ad­dressed via con­fer­ence tele­phone was held in Park­town, Joburg.

Vet­eran jour­nal­ists took turns pay­ing homage to their for­mer col­league, with some re­flect­ing on the price many of them paid for re­port­ing on the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

Thu­lani told them a legacy mu­seum and cul­tural vil­lage in his fa­ther’s mem­ory was in the pipe­line. It would be built on a 3-hectare piece of land ad­ja­cent to the new home.

His grave would also be on this piece of land, mak­ing it a “shrine, a mon­u­ment”, Thu­lani said.

“We as­sure you, for­mer col­leagues of the late Sam Nz­ima, that the gov­ern­ment of Mpumalanga and the na­tional gov­ern­ment are right be­hind this project.

“When you see such ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen­ing, do not in­ter­pret it as the re­ac­tionary thing from the gov­ern­ment now that Sam is no more. The gov­ern­ment has reached out to him in a big way,” he said.

Nz­ima would be buried in a spe­cial pro­vin­cial of­fi­cial fu­neral‚ the Pres­i­dency an­nounced on Wed­nes­day.

A pho­to­jour­nal­ist at­tached to The World news­pa­per in 1976, Nz­ima cap­tured a pho­to­graph show­ing a cry­ing Mbuy­isa Makhubu and An­toinette Sit­hole rush­ing the fa­tally wounded 13-year-old Hec­tor to a car.

The picture be­came a ma­jor sym­bol of the Strug­gle.

Suzette Ma­funa, Nz­ima’s for­mer col­league, said the Hec­tor photo fu­elled global anger against apartheid.

Her homage to Nz­ima was read out in a let­ter she penned from Toronto, Canada. Ma­funa re­mem­bered the pho­to­jour­nal­ist as be­ing “al­ways kind, gen­tle and charm­ing”.

“Sam sim­ply fo­cused on pro­duc­ing the best work pos­si­ble,” she said.


Artist Le­bani Sirenje paints a por­trait of the late pho­to­jour­nal­ist Sam Nz­ima, who took the iconic im­age of a dy­ing Hec­tor Pi­eter­son dur­ing the 1976 Soweto upris­ing. Nz­ima was re­mem­bered by his col­leagues and friends at a me­mo­rial ser­vice in Park­town, Joburg yes­ter­day.

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