The year 1994 was one of severities on the continent of Africa. But that’s Africa for you. Everything is intense here. From how we live to how we die; how we love to how we fight; from how we celebrate to how we grieve. This is Africa.
There were numerous events on the continent that made 1994 what it was for us here on the continent. However, today I want to share three images that captured three events that, for me, shaped 1994 for Africa. These were three different events that left Africans feeling so many diverse emotions. From sadness, to shock, to euphoria, to a sense of hopelessness.
This first image was captured by photographer Kevin Carter who, at the time, was covering the Sudan famine. This is the one photo that has ever made me cry. It depicts a starving child crawling towards a United Nations food camp which was said to be located a kilometre away. The vulture in the background of the image says so much about the situation. That a vulture would circle a human habitat is a deeply distressing indication of the amount of death in the air.
Not long after capturing this image, Kevin Carter (also the first journalist to photograph a public execution by “necklacing” in apartheid South Africa) committed suicide. Part of his suicide note read: “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain…of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners”.
No one knows what happened to the little girl in the pictures. I hope she survived this ordeal and is living life full of a million different types of happiness.
May our Sudanese brothers and sisters who experienced and survived that famine live today and the next peacefully and lovingly.
This next photo is extremely disturbing. It depicts a tiny but horrific fraction of the Rwandan genocide that took place between April and June of 1994. This was without a doubt one of Africa’s darkest moments. During this three month period, over 800,000 Africans were slaughtered by other Africans in cold blood.
Most of those killed were of the Tutsi tribe whilst most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus. The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994. However, this was never the only cause of this atrocity. Much can be said to try and explain the causes of this evil act or to lay blame on those that were behind it. But regardless of the reasons, there will never be any way to justify the murder of almost a million people.
May our 800,000 brothers and sisters rest in eternal peace.
There is something about this image that depicts such pure unadulterated joy on the face of this gogo (granny). It’s like she’s at peace, finally. Like her life’s struggle was worth it. This 3rd image is one that was captured by the Cape Times as she and millions of other South Africans participated in their first free and fair general elections held with universal adult suffrage.
Apartheid was the racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994, of South Africa. Under apartheid, the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaaner minority rule was maintained. This election marked the end of apartheid.
Of the almost 20 million South Africans that voted in this landmark election, almost 4 million still voted for the National Party…it’s almost like some people were still hoping to hold onto apartheid. No marks for guessing which people.
May our brothers and sisters in South Africa always remember their freedom was not free