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Biography of Kevin CARTER

South Africa > Media : Kevin CARTER

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Born on 13/09/1960 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Kevin Carter  born September 13, 1960- Died July 27, 1994, was a South african award winning photojournalist  and member  of the Bang Bang Club.

Kevin Carter was a South African photographer whose image of a starving Sudanese toddler stalked by a vulture won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. Shortly after winning the prize, he committed suicide, he was 33.

The picture was one of the polls of many publications in the top ten most striking picture of all time. Small child dies from exhaustion, and a number of vulture patiently waiting for his death.

Kevin Carter was born in 1960, the year Nelson Mandela's African National Congress was outlawed. Descended from English immigrants, Carter was not part of the Afrikaner mainstream that ruled thecountry. Indeed, its ideology appalled him. Yet he was caught up in its historic misadventure.

Born and brought in the middle of Apartheid, Kevin Carter, a middle class white, he despised the lack of resistance to the oppressive regime, he did not accept the way blacks were treated. During his military service, he tried to defend a black waiter in his mess hall, who was being insulted and, as a result was beaten up by his fellow soldiers. Suffering depression, shortly afterwards, he tried to kill himself and it was just after this that he decided to become a photographer to show the world what was happening.

 The police said Mr Carter's body and several letters to friends and family were discovered in his pick-up truck, parked in a Johannesburg suburb. An inquest showed that he had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mr Carter started as a sports photographer in 1983 but soon moved to the front lines of South African political strife, recording images of repression, anti-apartheid protest and fratricidal violence.

A few davs after winning his Pulitzer Prize in April, Mr Carter was nearby when one of his closest friends and professional companions, Ken Oosterbroek, was shot dead photographing a gun battle in Tokoza township.

Friends said Mr Carter was a man of tumultuous emotions which brought passion to his work but also drove him to extremes of elation and depression. In 1993, saying he needed a break from South Africa's turmoil, he paid his own way to the southern Sudan to photograph a civil war and famine that he felt the world was overlooking. His picture of an emaciated girl collapsing on the way to a feeding centre, as a plump vulture lurked in the background, was published first in The New York Times and The Mail & Guardian, a Johannesburg weekly.

The reaction to the picture was so strong that The New York Times published an unusual editor's note on the fate of the girl. Mr Carter said she resumed her trek to the feeding centre. He chased away the vulture. Afterwards, he told an interviewer, he sat under a tree for a long time, "smoking cigarettes and crying". His father, Mr Jimmy Carter said at the time of his death, "Kevin always carried around the horror of the work he did." 

The Truth about  malnourished baby and the vulture.

In 2011 The Spanish newspaper ‘El Mundo’ wrote an article about the truth, the real story behind the photograph. They showed that if one observes the high resolution picture, it can be seen that the baby, whose name was Kong Nyong, is wearing a plastic bracelet on his right hand, one issued by the UN food station. On inspecting it, the code ‘T3′ can be read, This means that the baby had survived the famine, the vulture and the tragic public predictions.

‘El Mundo's' reporter, Ayod, traveled to the village in search of the whereabouts of the child. His search led him to the boy's family. The boy's father confirmed his name and said he was a boy and not a girl as previously believed. He told the reporter that Kong Nyong recovered from the famine and grew up to become an adult, however, he said, he had died four years prior to the reporter's visit. 

Last update : 10/09/2011

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