WHEN THE CAMERA IMMORTALIZES THE PAIN OF OTHERS


This picture of ailing, starved wide-eyed African children is ubiquitous right?

Pictures of this sort have definitely created a disheartening notion that the so-called “dark continent”, alongside poor nations in continents far off, are in pertinent destroy themselves and remain in inhuman and dire poverty.  These images numb our sensitivity towards unjust human suffering.

The picture you see on the left is an abomination, and I say this not only because I am part Nigerian (Igbo), but because of the painful way in which the Igbos and other Nigerians suffered during the Biafra war.

Because of the injustice and lack of recognition of their people, the Igbos believed in the creation of  their own nation, Biafra. Because independence was denied them, coupled with their defeat in the war thanks to a food blockade which killed several youth, many Igbos see the blockade strategy as equivalent to genocide of their people.

What you are looking at is an immortalized image of my people’s suffering. Unfortunately this image is very typical of those you would see in any other impoverished, war and hunger stricken third world nation.

According to Susan Sontag, the western journalistic custom inherits the old (racist) practice of exhibiting dark skin Africans and denizens of remote Asian nations as exotic. The exhibition of cruelties inflicted on people of darker complexions in exotic nations is easily done without consideration of their feelings, different from the moral reasons why western journalists don’t openly exhibit those of their people at home.

It is interesting that “the more exotic the place, the more likely we are to have full frontal views of the dead and dying” (Susan Sontag)

This picture is the stereotypic image of the plight of Africa. This image is also the stereotypic image of the suffering in poor nations in Asia, this picture is as a result impotent in triggering mass aid and help from the average Joe in the western world or Europe in times of need.

We don’t see African-American slave museums as we see images of children in Darfur or Holocaust museums. The west among other nations is not comfortable dealing with the gruesome images which remind them of their past. Amnesia helps cover and heal the thought of such painful events.

These Images from the Biafra are similar to those from today’s Sudan and the ongoing suffering as a result of the flood in Pakistan. The question now, as it has been for a while is why the minute coverage in the west ? What are the Images? How do we understand their plight? more importantly, how do we deal with this occurring suffering?  As fellow human beings we cannot pretend te blind to their suffering, it is an abomination to watch the ongoing suffering of others, while capable of aiding.

There are several organizations worldwide trying to help relieve the suffering of people in a variety of situations.There are several organisations specifically trying to stop the different after effects of the flood in pakistan. Musicians Against Malaria hopes to work in collaboration with Malaria No More, on providing medical and anti-malaria fighting supplies such as mosquito nets and sprays to victims of the flood who desperately need help.  The donations received from our social media and art campaigns will prevent 2 million people from falling prey to malaria.

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