- Veteran photographer of the struggle against apartheid, Sam Nzima, was celebrated for the role his images played in helping to bring awareness of the fight for freedom in South Africa as he was laid to rest today
- Deputy president, David Mabuza praised Nzima’s telling of the story of the people of South Africa’s struggling for liberation from oppression
- Mabuza said the iconic picture, seen around the world, of 18-year-old Mbuyisa Makhubu carrying a lifeless body of a young Hector Pieterson on June 16, 1967 marked a defining moment in the history of South Africa
Deputy President David Mabuza has praised the role of veteran struggle era photographer, Sam Nzima, for his role in the fight for freedom in South Africa by telling the stories of what was going on in the country to the world at large.
Speaking at the burial of Sam Nzima in his home village of Lillydale, Mpumalanga, Mabuza paid tribute to Nzima describing him as a giant in the world of photojournalism.
Briefly.co.za learned that Mabuza also said Nzima was an example of someone who had refused to allow circumstances to prevent him from becoming photojournalist despite all the cards stacked against him due to his race and time of his birth.
"Photography remained his passion and he concentrated more in this area of work that would make us know him and his work," said Mabusa.
The iconic photographer had been honoured during his lifetime with the prestigious Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze. He died at the age of 83-years on Saturday, 12 May, at the Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit.
"The news of his passing brought sadness and sorrow not only to the people of South Africa but to the entire world that came to know uBab’Nzima through his photojournalism work. At the height of repressive laws and political violence meted by the apartheid regime on the black majority of our country, the myth and facade of a normal state was instantly broken," said Mabuza.
"On 16 June 1976, the extent of inhumanness and brutality of apartheid was laid bare, with the photo that immortalised an 18-year-old Mbuyisa Makhubu carrying a lifeless body of a young Hector Pieterson," he said. "To this day, that iconic photo remains a reminder of our history. It became the emotive and historical landmark feature that forever defined how the June 16, 1976 narrative was told."
Mabuza added that the photo was key in making the international community take notice of what was happening in South Africa. The image of brutal killings of innocent people left no-one unable to continue pretending there wasn’t something wrong with what the apartheid government was doing.
Pieterson's death, and the images taken by Nzima, said Mabuza, provided a defining moment in South Africa's history. The images captured and disseminated through the world sparked an international outcry and mobilised young people into swelling the ranks of the national liberation movement in exile.
"Even those who had stood on the side of the regime as its allies, began to acknowledge that indeed the philosophical basis of apartheid was wrong, evil and a crime against humanity," said the deputy president. "That frozen moment in picture by Nzima changed the course of history."
"We celebrate the fact that among awards Nzima won, our country honoured him with the prestigious Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze," said Mabuza.
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