Sam Nzima a 'flame that will not be extinguished' - Somadoda Fikeni

2018-05-17 19:13
Veteran South African photographers Alf Kumalo and Sam Nzima, both photographers of the Sowteto Uprisings of 1976, celebrate Youth Day in 2005. (Photo: Gallo Images)

Veteran South African photographers Alf Kumalo and Sam Nzima, both photographers of the Sowteto Uprisings of 1976, celebrate Youth Day in 2005. (Photo: Gallo Images)

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"The photographers are the invisible lot but whose presence are felt in every story."

This was Professor Somadoda Fikeni's tribute to the late veteran photographer Sam Nzima.  

Nzima, who is best known for taking the iconic picture of Hector Pieterson on June 16 in 1976 during the Soweto uprising, died in a Nelspruit hospital on Saturday. 

Fikeni, from the University of South Africa (Unisa), who was speaking at a memorial service for Nzima at the offices of Tiso Blackstar Group in Parktown, Johannesburg, said he met Nzima back in 2005. 

Friends and former colleagues had gathered at the service to mourn his passing.

He said Nzima's picture of Pieterson spoke a million words, which no editor or writer could write so articulately.

"It is for that reason you see this humble man who hardly spoke about that image, but rather about his community. It is rare to have a person celebrated by the world, so humble."

READ: Family says his death has left them devastated

He said Nzima had a sense of humility and greatness.

Fikeni described the 83-year-old as a war journalist, who had the "nerves of steel" to thrive through bullets, chaos and risks. 

He said Nzima had left a legacy behind.

"He is the kind of flame that will not be extinguished, even by the gale force winds of a society that often forgets.

"Sam was able to share a library [of photographs] from a camera to a sock, from a sock to the world. As you close your eyes, the rest of us are beginning to open ours to see the greatness you left behind but never received the recognition for it."

Nzima will be buried next week. His funeral will be a special official provincial funeral. 

His son Thulani said the family would fulfil his father's dream of having a library to showcase his life's work, adding that they would bury his father close to his home in Mpumalanga.

Read more on:    sam nzima

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