How One Photograph Changed the World

Photographer Sam Nzima, the journalist who took the iconic photograph of a person carrying the body of Hector Pieterson, has died. It was this image that in 1976 was shared with the world and brought international uprise against the apartheid regime in South Africa. This video is a tribute to his work, and how it changed the world. 

When the international news published this image, it brought the world together and it started the action towards change in South Africa. There was a lot of tension in the country with regards to education, language, the color of your skin, and what language you spoke. He was sent out to cover one part of the peaceful gathering, but it turned violent. 

I am a South African, and the country has been through a lot of political problems in the past. On one side I am saddened by the people who lost their lives due to unjustifiable decisions and behavior by a country’s leadership, but on the other side I am also happy and relieved to know that the one thing I love so much — photography — could show the world what was happening in South Africa, and caused the world to come together and initiate change. 

June 16th is now Youth Day and a public holiday in South Africa. 

We as photographers should celebrate every photographer that gets credible attention in the media. We are so often behind the lens, and I think this man, Sam Nzima, and the image he got to the publishers by hiding the spool in his sock, will forever be a part of history. 

If you'd like to find out more about Hector Pieterson and about the Soweto uprising on 16 June 1976, you can learn about it on this Wikipedia page.

Log in or register to post comments