- South African icon Sam Nzima passed away on this day two years ago in 2018
- He is best known for taking the photograph that became the iconic image of the Soweto Uprising
- The image is of Hector Pieterson after he was shot by apartheid police and it became familiar worldwide
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On this day two years ago, legendary photographer Sam Nzima passed away. The man became a worldwide name after his capture of a significant moment during the 1976 Soweto Uprising - Hector Pieterson's limp body.
Nzima was born in Limpopo and grew up on the farm where his father worked. His interest in photography started in school when he saw his teacher's camera. He was fascinated by how pictures developed from a small box. The young man then bought himself a small Kodak camera and thus began the journey to his biggest accomplishment.
During the school holidays, he used to go to the Kruger National Park and charge people to take their photographs. In 1976, Nzima was present during the chaotic scenes of the Soweto Uprising, which saw school pupils revolt against the apartheid government. Their fight was against the imposition of Afrikaans as the main teaching medium. This was where Hector Pieterson was shot.
The photo captured the heart-wrenching moment when the limb and lifeless body of the pupil was carried by a distraught Mbuyisa Makhubu. A weeping Antoinette, Hector's sister, is seen walking alongside the pair. The iconic image was published in several newspapers and has become one of the main scenes associated with the uprising.
The image was taken on the corner of Moema and Vilikazi Streets in Orlando West, Soweto.
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The Soweto Uprising saw approximately 176 people dead but those figures have been questioned. It is estimated that up to 700 died. The apartheid government claimed that only 23 students were killed.
Nzima was 83 years old when he passed away in a Nelspruit hospital, leaving behind his wife and son. He was buried at the Sam Nzima’s legacy museum and cultural village site in Mpumalanga.
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