Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 15th, 2013

The story behind “that selfie”: Barack Obama, British David Cameron, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt

Roberto Schmidt posted:

So here’s my photo, which quickly lit up the world’s social networks and news websites.

The “selfie” of 3 world leaders who, during South Africa’s farewell to Nelson Mandela, were messing about like kids instead of behaving with the mournful gravitas one might expect.
(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a picture with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt next to US First Lady Michelle Obama during the memorial service for South African former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

In general on this blog, photojournalists tell the story behind a picture they’ve taken.

I’ve done this for images from Pakistan, and India, where I am based.

This time the picture comes from a stadium in Soweto, and shows people taking a photo of themselves. I guess it’s a sign of our times that somehow this image seemed to get more attention than the event itself. Go figure.

selfie-combo_m.jpg

I arrived in South Africa with several other AFP journalists to cover the farewell and funeral ceremonies for Nelson Mandela. We were in the Soccer City stadium in Soweto, under a driving rain.

I’d been there since the crack of dawn and when I took this picture, the memorial ceremony had already been going on for more than two hours.

From the podium, Obama had just qualified Mandela as a “giant of history who moved a nation towards justice.” After his stirring eulogy, America’s first black president sat about 150 metres across from where I was set up. He was surrounded by other foreign dignitaries and I decided to follow his movements with the help of my 600 mm x 2 telephoto lens.

So Obama took his place amid these leaders who’d gathered from all corners of the globe. Among them was British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as a woman who I wasn’t able to immediately identify.

I later learned it was the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. I’m a German-Colombian based in India, so I don’t feel too bad I didn’t recognize her! At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers.

Suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president. I captured the scene reflexively.

All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two.

The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa.

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.

I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have.

At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you. I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium.

For me, the behaviour of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural. I see nothing to complain about, and probably would have done the same in their place.

The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father. We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image seems to have eclipsed much of this collective work.

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

It was interesting to see politicians in a human light because usually when we see them it is in such a controlled environment. Maybe this would not be such an issue if we, as the press, would have more access to dignitaries and be able to show they are human as the rest of us.

I confess too that it makes me a little sad we are so obsessed with day-to-day trivialities, instead of things of true importance.

During Mandela's memorial service in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

During Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

Note 1:  Have you noticed that Roberto and Helle have the same name of Schmidt?  And what Schmidt means in English?

Note 2: Apparently, it was the stony face of Michelle Obama that promoted these pictures…

Note 3: I acquired a new term in my dictionary: Selfie is to take picture of yourself using a smartphone…

 

Cancer: IF ONLY for A SECOND, Video

 posted this Dec. 10, 2013

20 cancer patients participated in a unique makeover experience.

They were invited to a studio. Their hair and makeup were completely redone.

During the transformation, they were asked to keep their eyes shut.

A photographer then immortalized the moment they opened their eyes. This discovery allowed them to forget their illness, IF ONLY FOR A SECOND.

Read more http://www.trueactivist.com/gab_gallery/if-only-for-a-second/

Freed the Jailer as well?” Nelson Mandela

Tens of thousands gathered at the FNP Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg today for a memorial to honor Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.

Nearly 100 heads of state traveled to South Africa for the memorial, including President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Mandela’s body will then lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was sworn in as president in 1994.

He will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, his ancestral home. We begin our coverage of the memorial with President Obama’s address. “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well,” Obama said. “While I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man.”

Interview of Amy Goodman with Barak Obama:

President Obama: Nelson Mandela “Freed Not Just the Prisoner, But the Jailer As Well”

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with.

He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.

He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid, because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate.

He used decades of prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressors, so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough.

No matter how right, they must also be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history.

On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the apartheid regime that prisoners cannot enter into contracts.

But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal.

And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights and the precious freedoms of every South African.

And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit.

There is a word in South Africa, ubuntu, a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift—his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye, that there is a oneness to humanity, that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small—introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration, taking a pitch in a springbok uniform, turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS—that revealed the depths of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

SHOW FULL TRANSCRIPT ›

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2013
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,441,093 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 784 other followers

%d bloggers like this: