The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

Synopsis

The Bang-Bang Club is the story of four young photographers who covered the last years of apartheid, taking many of the most memorable photographs of the period. In this stunning new book, the group's two surviving members recount their political, emotional, and personal journeys through these violent years as South Africa moved toward democracy. Along the way we accompany them on free-lance assignments to other war-torn regions, including the former Yugoslavia and the Sudan, where one member of the group shoots what has become a world-famous photograph of a starving child stalked by a vulture.

The boldness that earned the group its nickname, that prompted them to rush headlong into dangerous situations in pursuit of an image, forces them to consider difficult questions that lie at the heart of their work: When does their sense of humanity overwhelm their ambition and professional duties? When do they put aside their cameras and their impartiality and get involved? These are the moral dilemmas that the Bang-Bang Club grappled with on a daily basis.

Excerpt

By Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

Nearly everybody made the most dire predictions about where South Africa was headed. They believed that that beautiful land would be overwhelmed by the most awful bloodbath, that as sure as anything, a catastrophic race war would devastate that country. These predictions seemed well on the way to fulfilment when violence broke. out at the time of the negotiations for a transition from repression to freedom, from totalitarian rule to democracy. At the start of the 1990s, the most awful bloodletting began to seem endemic. What appeared to be random killings were taking place on the trains, massacres were happening when township residents were pitted against the hostel dwellers who led an unnatural existence in single-sex hostels and were being alienated from the more stable community-life in the black urban townships. People were dying like flies and dying gruesomely, through the notorious necklace when a tyre filled with petrol would be placed around a victim's neck and then set alight. Whenever the daily statistics of casualties were published and they said five or six people had been killed in the previous twenty-four hours, most of us would sigh with relief and say, 'Only five or only six' -- it was that bad.

Conventional wisdom declared that most of this bloodletting was due to the bloody rivalry between Nelson Mandela African National Congress (ANC) and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), fighting for political turf to establish unchallengeable supremacy. That seemed a plausible explanation until one pointed out certain odd features in this whole gory rivalry. the massacres seemed almost always to take place just when the negotiations for transition had reached a delicate stage, and it was an odd coincidence that the . . .

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