Friday, 1 January 2016


A few weeks ago, two well-known Tanzanian bloggers used photographs I had taken of an event in London without giving credit to my name. They put up the pictures plus what I had written as penned by them. In journalism, this is by-line. The dictionary defines a by line as “a line in a newspaper naming the writer of the article...”
  The internet has made things and information so, so accessible. Therefore, you find well-known photo-journalistic agencies like Getty and Reuters stamping credits on their photographs. Watermarking. Since some amateurish and disrespectful users do not give credit to sources, professional photographers use watermark. Watermark is utilised in stamps, bank notes and passports to evade counter freight.
 Tanzania is still a young nation and many things are still being discovered and explored.
Many citizens do not understand the value of copyright and professional ethics. Twenty-five years ago, when music was being copied haphazardly, the late Remmy Ongala complained a lot. Ongala’s music was abused and he was not being paid. The problem continues today.
This column has continued pointing out how some of our bloggers do not want to be creative and resort to the habit of cutting, pasting and copying materials found on line.
This is part of our growing process reflecting how we have much to learn. Sooner or later time and reality shall catch with us.
This dramatic picture of a group of young males fighting for a mango was taken by Blogger and Photo journalist Joseph Mwaisango in 2015. An excellent example of very original work

A few months ago, a young student told how she wanted to become a photographer but was being discouraged. She loved snapping pictures of Tanzania’s nature and environment. However, her parents did not support her because they do not see any future in photography, especially for girls.
Very sad, indeed.
Right now, the world is awakening to the positive and huge nature of photography. As we speak almost everyone using a mobile phone can shoot a picture. While most of us just want to record an image of a family event, one may take an extra mile and capture an everlasting image. In other words, if you focus, have a bit of talent, if you consider yourself creative and imaginative, you can snap that special, extraordinary picture.
That is why this girl’s parents need to be reminded that herein lays a possibility of a career. We have no known celebrity female photographers. 
Some of established photo-journalists of the 70s and 80s  with the late Mwalimu Nyerere (fifth, standing) in 1985. Vincent Urio is third standing. Second from right squatting is Khatibu Ally who I worked with in Uhuru newspapers. His pic forms the main picture of this blog, taken in 1978. Note the only female in this image (squatting third from right)  is not identified in all original captions I saw online.
 Pic from Mbeya Yetu  Blog.

When I used to write for Sunday News we had amazing camera men. One was Vincent Urio. Some of best shots of Tanzanian history including those of Mwalimu Nyerere or the war in Uganda were taken by the late Urio. I remember when then chief editor of Daily and Sunday News, Ulli Mwambulukutu wanted Urio to snap my portrait for my weekly “Cultural Images” column in 1982. Instead of merely posing, Urio wanted me to be in “my artistic world.” He knew my column was about art, music, literature, etc. He asked me to put on my favourite top. A beautiful flowery shirt. Wanted me to hold my guitar and sing. He used that image. It was unique. Mwalimu Nyerere adored Urio. Another Daily News product is the well-known blogger Issa Michuzi. Michuzi has become a photo journalistic icon. Thanks to his camera work his blog is considered the most known in Kiswahili language, worldwide.
Now. These are males. How about women?
Hardly any.
 Girls in Africa are the subject, i.e. usually photographed.
That is changing. There are so many female photographers across the world. Photography leads to cinematography and it can be very lucrative.
Nevertheless, it is not just about money.  It is about subject matter.
Steve McCurry. Foto from Oko Blog

Last week an exhibition was held in Paris for the work of American photographer Steve McCurry. McCurry is a winner of several prizes including the Robert Capa Gold Medal given to “the best published photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise.”
Robert Capa is a legend. Although he only died aged 40, the Hungarian born freelance cameraman managed to cover several gigantic global conflicts e.g. the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, Second World War and the Arab – Israel War of 1948, to name a few.  
 "Afghan Girl" taken by Steve McCurry in 1984 is iconic.

Now McCurry has been in many parts of the world but he is specifically famous for a picture he took of a young Afghanistan woman (Sharbat Gula) in 1984. “Afghan Girl” is so memorable that it has been dubbed the modern Mona Lisa. Gula has an expression of trauma, awe and beauty. Her green eyes add to an aura of someone in a troubled spot. When interviewed by France 24 TV, McCurry said the future of photography is bright as things are much easier in this digital age, than in the old days.
This is what our bloggers and parents need to learn.  Something our young people need to understand.  Photography is special. It can become a lifelong career. Not some joke, messing around or waste of time...
  Also published in Citizen Tanzania, New Year's Day 2016.


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