TIME Photo essay and dignity

I wont say much because this got me to. A few months ago an Italian photographer published pictures of a body of a Ugandan girl he helped exhume in order to tell a story of human sacrifice in Uganda. A story caused much backlash from the online world and Pultzer Center took down the pictures. Now  I found myself looking on in disbelief how TIME could run some of their pictures in the essay about maternal mortalityin Seirra Leone. Pictures of one woman road from pregnancy to death and pictures show her during labour and the funeral.

As a journalist I understand the desire to tell a comprehensive story and the use of pictures but why do western media persistently publish pictures of Africans that in their own countries would simply be out of question?  I don’t ask this because our own media is any better but I am puzzled because these are leading media houses in the world.

I have learnt one thing that while telling the African story, there’s always a different yardstick used. In Africa, show victims in anyway you want for the line between dignity and the abuse of it  and all those tenents that the media claims look to be almost permanently blurry. Where else would you take pictures of naked women in labour with blood all over them en identify them and expect that be an act of goodwill except in Africa?  I would expect TIME not to publish picture no 3.

No doubt Maternal mortality in Africa is still a huge challenge becuase of a myraid reasons but how do we tell the entire story without overriding peoples dignity?  In Uganda the mortality rate is above 400 per 100,000 births and some countries are worse than that but how do we tell the story of limited progress in reducing these deaths significantly but maintaining the cap on dignity for those thousands of families accross Africa that go through such horrors everyday?

3 thoughts on “TIME Photo essay and dignity

  1. We Africans and other developing countries need to start looking at the Western world in a different lens and relearn to tell the history and present of western people. Much as we want to see them as our saviours when our history and present says different, it is a different story and unless we learn to tell it the way it is, we will always fall victim of these kinds of things. Especially our rural uneducated people who are so stiil naive and still look at the white man as a superior being. The problems are in our lack of education, poverty and the way we percieve westerners in general. This right here is a perfect example.

    And to all those who think that people who live away from home are trying to act civilised and superior yet they are not (i know fully well there are those who overly act westernised and forget their roots and run away with the western culture like it is God or something), this blog here is just an example of the consequences of our perception of the western world. Maybe such people should start listening abit more to the likes of Rosebell who try to enlighten us all. If only we had such more enlightment in our media, it would be great.

    Keep up the good work Rosebell.

  2. Oooooooh the photo essay got me so riled up! Was planning a blog post on it, now I’ll just RT your post on twitter.

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