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Outlook Money
Frontline

The Frontline features

A true picture

By V. Venkatesan

A GOOD picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words. On that count, South African Kevin Carter's chilling photograph, of a lone, emaciated Sudanese girl faltering on her way to a feeding centre while a vulture hovers in the background, is a story in itself. It sums up more concisely than words can the plight of the people in the war-ravaged country, and has won Carter the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

Early in 1993, Carter, 33, then a photographer for the Johannesburg Weekly Mail, felt that developments in Sudan had not received much media attention though conditions there were perhaps worse than in Somalia or Ethiopia. He embarked on a trip there with financial assistance from the South Light Photo Agency. In southern Sudan, where two Christian guerilla groups are fighting each other and the Islamic fundamentalist national government, he experienced the horrors of war and the suffering of the innocents. On many occasions, he was moved to tears. One day, he was leaving a feeding centre, where hundreds of children were dying of malnutrition when he came upon this child.

When the photograph was first published in the international media in April 1993, some readers found it of questionable taste, but others were stirred to donative action. Still others wondered what became of the little girl.

Carter was not sure. Said he: "This is the ghastly image of what is happening to thousands of children. Southern Sudan is hell on earth, and the experience was the most horrifying of my career."

Of the Pulitzer, he says: "I don't believe I deserve this prize. For me, the main thing is that people were made aware..." n

(Published in Frontline, June 17, 1994)

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