The family of the late, world-renowned photographer, Mr Sam Nzima, will gather at the Hilltop Assembly Church in Mkhuhlu, Bushbuckridge, on Saturday, 14th November 2020, to commemorate his belated birthday and celebrate the Honorary Doctorate the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) conferred on him posthumously in June.
Mr Nzima’s Honorary Doctorate was conferred on the 8th of June during one of TUT’S Autumn Graduation ceremony which was held online because of the lockdown period. Mr Thulani Nzima, Nzima’s son, thanked the TUT community for the honour bestowed upon his father.
“The doctorate is the recognition to the democracy that we are enjoying today. It’s also a reminder to us of the person that Sam Nzima was. A good recognition for someone who has been recognized by people from outside the country and not recognized by the people at his home country. As a family we are so proud to have shared his life with the people of Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. It’s just unfortunate that he is no longer here with us. We hope and believe that people will be inspired by someone like Sam Nzima who has left a legacy during his time in this world.” Said Nzima.
He said his father’s former house in Lillydale will soon house the Sam Nzima Foundation, where the family also plans to build a Centre of Excellence to honour his father. Nzima said the centre will provide teaching opportunities which will involve TUT’S expertise in journalism and photography. Nzima said his father’s work carried itself when he was still alive. He said his father was extremely passionate about community development and therefore this is the same mandate that they have to carry out.
“My father had a vision and community development was one thing that carried him through even during the difficult periods. We could have placed the Sam Nzima Foundation, which is presently situated in Lillydale and in Huntington, anywhere in the country but because of the passion my father had for his community we had to follow through in place it locally.” He added.
Nzima further explained that a lot of youngsters always face challenges when it comes to journalism because they do not have access to the resources. He said young people are facing a challenge because they have to go to far away institutions when they want to pursue media studies because there are none locally. He said they hope that the institution will help the youngsters who want to pursue careers in media and journalism, bearing in mind that Sam Nzima was not trained to be a journalist, he developed the skill by himself on the street.
Sam Nzima, who was born on 8 August 1934 and sadly passed away on 12 May 2018, is best known for taking the Hector Pieterson photograph where Mbuyisa Makhubu is carrying Hector Pieterson’s lifeless body away from the rioting crowd during the student protest of June 16, 1976. When he took the photograph, he was still working for The World and was covering the student protest for the paper.
The photograph has been widely publicised and exhibited all over the world, mostly unauthorised and without acknowledgement of the man behind the photo. The image inspired many in the world and in South Africa to take up arms and support the liberation struggle.
After 22 years of fighting for the rights to his photograph of Pieterson, Mr Nzima was finally given copyright to the picture in 1998 when the Argus Group sold its newspapers to the Independent Online Group. His iconic image made Time Magazine’s headlines in 1976, revealing to the world the brutality and ruthlessness of the Apartheid system. The magazine also recognised it as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Images of the century.
In a letter sent to the family and that will be read together with a Commendation at the event on the 14th November 2020, Prof Lourens van Staden, TUT’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, says that it is an honour for the institution to confer on Mr Nzima the degree Doctor of Arts and Design (honoris causa), posthumously, in the Faculty of Arts & Design.
“May his iconic image of Hector Pieterson keep on reminding us, not only of the power that young people have to create change, but also of the power a single picture can have to open the world’s eyes to injustices and brutality,” Prof van Staden wrote.