Photo showed the world SA’s pain

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Beth­well Xiv­iti

AT MY first job in­ter­view, one of the panel mem­bers asked where my birth­place was.

With­out any sense of hes­i­ta­tion I gave a great nar­ra­tion of where I was born, a typ­i­cal vil­lage in the for­mer Gazankulu home­land, known as Nk­winya-Ma­hem­bhe.

It is of para­mount im­por­tance that I ded­i­cate this youth month to the fel­low vil­lager, Sam Masana Nz­ima, who ex­posed the suf­fer­ing and sense­less killings of un­armed and de­fence­less youths, through the lens of a cam­era.

Then, as a ded­i­cated pho­to­jour­nal­ist, who saw the mas­sacre of June 16, 1976, he said that brave young peo­ple, male and fe­male, made him re­alise young peo­ple had the power to change things. The power to change the world.

As he nar­rates in the con­ver­sa­tion he says that be­ing a jour­nal­ist at the time wasn’t a good ca­reer as they were sub­jected to un­just rules, as­saults and some got killed. In his case he was placed un­der house ar­rest and had to flee Joburg and re­turn to the vil­lage to pur­sue busi­ness.

The pic­ture etched in our mem­o­ries is of the heav­ily bleed­ing young boy Hec­tor Pi­eter­son in the arms of a strong youth leader, Mbuy­isa Makhubu. Fol­low­ing be­hind in tears is Hec­tor’s sis­ter An­toinette.

It was that pic­ture that frus­trated the fun­ders of apartheid, and the apartheid gov­ern­ment re­acted more vi­o­lently, re­fus­ing to ad­mit the regime would be over­thrown soon.

In­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions and other coun­tries’ re­ac­tion af­ter the pic­ture was pub­lished wasn’t good and threat­ened fight­ing fire with fire.

They fought for a good cause. Yes, for a good cause. What hap­pened then mat­ters now…

The po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try is of con­cern. Ir­re­spec­tive of our po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions and opin­ions, it is our right to chal­lenge, ques­tion, in­ves­ti­gate and seek le­gal opin­ion on the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties of politi­cians who claim to be the peo­ple’s ser­vants.

So­cial ill­ness is at its height where our young broth­ers and sis­ters are af­fected by drug or al­co­hol prob­lems, abuse and crime of some sort. Pol­i­tics of par­ties have crip­pled the youth-em­pow­er­ing in­sti­tu­tions where the in­sti­tu­tions no longer meet their ob­jec­tives.

The ail­ing econ­omy has a huge ef­fect on the poor.

We are sub­jected to harsh liv­ing con­di­tions, iso­lated from play­ing a role in the econ­omy which is due to non-fund­ing of ed­u­ca­tion and un­em­ploy­ment. It is in our hands to ful­fil the African dream of eco­nomic free­dom in our lifetime.

Salute to a vil­lage icon… Nk­winya-Ma­hem­bhe Vil­lage


STU­DENTS BLEED: Sam Nz­ima, leg­endary pho­tog­ra­pher at home in Li­ly­dale, Mpumalanga, was proud when a Zim­bab­wean artist pre­sented him with this sculp­ture of a dy­ing Hec­tor Pi­eter­son.

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