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Monday, 2 February 2009

Book Review- The Bang-Bang Club: snapshots from a hidden war

So I just finished reading this book called The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a hidden war. It's about four photographers- Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva (authors), Kevin Carter (dec) and Ken Oosterbroek (dec) who were covering the Apartheid in South Africa during the 1990s. This is a book I think everyone should read.

Many of us -most of us, I think- live in our own little comfortable boxes of which we rarely step out of. Sure, we read the newspaper, watch the news, listen to the radio. We know about the war in Iraq. We know that homeless people exist. We know that many countries have civil wars. We know what genocide is. And we know about AIDS and poverty and famine and disease. But the difference between knowing that it exists and understanding what is happening is huge. Before the book, I had a vague idea of what the Apartheid was. As I was only eight when Nelson Mandela was released in 1990 I didn't really know what was going on, why he was jailed in the first place, or why it was such a big deal that he had been released. Except that it showed some form of hope for the black majority in South Africa (and unease for the white minority).

The Bang-Bang Club opened my eyes to what really happened in South Africa during the time of the Apartheid. It was a time of extreme violence, where anything could happen. These four photographers were subjected to such horrible images that one of them committed suicide, while the other died on the job, having been shot at.

Let me give you a brief idea of what the photos they took were of:

- one photo of a vulture stalking a starving child in Sudan
- a photo of a man running away from the camera, with his clothes on fire
- many images of the dead
- an image of a 2 year old boy, whose head had been smashed, laying dead next to his aunty. The justification the guy who killed him (part of an extreme right-wing political party) was that "snakes give birth to snakes"

I know humanity is capable of some horrible things, but you don't realise just how horrible until you read the details- unedited by the media, with no hidden agendas. If you want to know about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, check out the blogs of the local people. Don't read about it in the paper. The media has nought but its own agenda to worry about, never mind giving you the full picture of what's really going on behind the scenes.

The Bang-Bang Club was written by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, the only two remaining photographers of this exclusive club. If it weren't for this book (which, by the way, is banned in Australia- but you can buy it off Amazon), I wouldn't have known the truth behind what happened during the Apartheid, and the extent to which humans can commit utterly horrible crimes with no remorse.

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