• Sunday, December 21, 2014

Freedom in the air

The Bang Bang Club

This year South Africa celebrates twenty years of democracy since Nelson Mandela's election in 1994. However, the transition didn't take place in one day.
From 1991 to 1994 violence dominated the country. While most of the media based their articles on police reports, there were four young South African photojournalists who had tried to awaken the world to the gruesome reality. They became known as the Bang Bang Club.
Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva covered violence in townships -- urban areas that, until the end of Apartheid, were reserved for non-whites.
They were first named the Bang Bang Paparazzi by a local lifestyle magazine. Joao Silva and Greg Marinovich were offended and persuaded the editor to change into the Bang Bang Club.  
The name comes from the culture itself; township residents spoke to the photographers about the "bang-bang" referring to the sound of gunfire. It was also a colloquialism used by conflict photographers.
Six days after Kevin won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize, Ken was shot and killed while covering violence in South Africa. Beside him were Silva and Greg, who was also shot and injured. As his colleagues were photographing the unrest, Kevin was absent due to an interview about his Pulitzer winning.
After the death of Kevin and Ken, Greg and Silva were posted around the world as war photojournalists. Silva lost his legs in a landmine in Afghanistan. Greg too suffered four injuries. In 2000, the two co-authored “The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War”, a novel based on their experiences as a Bang Bang Club member, even if it was an informal group. In 2010, a movie called 'The Bang Bang Club' was released based on the book.
James Nachtwey, who spent time side by side with members of the Bang Bang Club unfortunately witnessing the death of Ken in the process, identified with the club's singular devotion. “They put themselves in face of danger, were arrested numerous times, but never quit. They literally were willing to sacrifice themselves for what they believed in.”

Source: travisspratt.com; riemasansfrontiere.wordpress.com

Published: 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2014

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