Tribute to lensman who captured iconic photo
LEGENDARY photojournalist Sam Nzima’s family are happy that the government did not wait until his death before honouring him.
His son, Thulani Nzima, told a memorial service yesterday the lensman – famous for the iconic photograph of dying schoolboy Hector Pieterson in 1976 – died just when he was due to move into a house built for him by the Mpumalanga government.
“(Former premier) DD Mabuza built a decent house for Sam Nzima,” Thulani said.
“Sam was preparing to move into the house last Thursday after receiving the keys. While he was busy sorting out the keys, he collapsed before he could take occupation of his new house.
“That is the sad part. But as I speak to you now, all of us are gathered at Sam’s new home,” Thulani added.
The memorial service, which Thulani addressed via teleconference, was held in Parktown, Joburg.
Veteran journalists paid homage to their former colleague, with some reflecting on the price many of them paid for reporting on the apartheid government.
Thulani told them that a leg- acy museum and cultural village in his father’s memory was in the pipeline.
It was to be built on 3 hectares of land adjacent to his new home.
It is also his gravesite, which made it a monument, Thulani told mourners.
“The government of Mpumalanga and the national government are right behind this project.
“When you see such activities happening, do not interpret it as a response from the government only now that Sam Nzima is no more…
“The Mpumalanga government has reached out to Sam in a big way,” he said.
Nzima will be buried at a special provincial funeral‚ the Presidency announced on Wednesday.
He died over the weekend in Mpumalanga at the age of 83.
As a photojournalist at The World newspaper in 1976, Nzima captured a crying Mbuyisa Makhubu and Antoinette Sithole carrying a fatally wounded Hector, 12, to a car.
The picture became a major symbol of the Struggle against apartheid.
Nzima paid a heavy price for this photo. After it was published, he was forced to resign from his job and flee Joburg.
The apartheid regime even- tually detained and placed him under house arrest for 19 months in Lilydale, Mpumalanga.
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 “always being kind, gentle and charming”.
“Sam simply focused on producing the best work possible,” she said.
Pearl Luthuli, who met Nzima in 1974 when she joined The World, said the lensman’s passing was a reminder that many journalists had not been recognised for the role they played in the Struggle against apartheid.
“In those days every journalist was an activist,” she said.
“We were forced to become political activists. Many journalists in those days sacrificed their lives and their families.”
Political analyst and academic Somadoda Fikeni, who was Nzima’s friend, said the freedom that Nzima paid a price for should be protected.
“The freedom we enjoy today was not cheap. It came at a cost.
“But some of the leaders today have put the same freedom on auction sale at a clearance price.”
Image of a dying Hector Pieterson showed the Struggle against apartheid brutality to the world