No. 9    The Sudanese Famine

A young girl crawls to the feeding centre in Sudan, starving in need of food as freelance photojournalist takes a photo
A young starving boy crawls to a feeding centre as a vulture looks on

This was a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, March 1993, published by the New York Times, but one which came with the ultimate price tag. It won the Feature Photography Pulitzer in 1994.

In 1993, Kevin Carter and his friend Joao Silva went to cover the Sudanese war and ultimately the famine which derived from it. They were both young, Carter was in his early 30’s and ambitious, eager to push forward in their careers.

One day Carter noticed what he believed to be a little Girl crawling toward a UN Food Depot and decided to take a photo. As he got down to take another he noticed the Vulture. On returning to Silva he told him he had chased the Vulture away, but was affected by the incident. There is no proof either man carried the girl to safety.

About four months after the photo was published, Carter, who had a daughter of his own, took his own life. He would never learn the faith of the Girl in Sudan.

In 2011 however, the child’s father revealed the child was actully a boy, by the name of Kong Nyong, and he had been taken care of by the UN food station. Nyong had died four years prior, around 2007, of what the family classified as “fevers”.

To this day people wrongly refer to the person in the photo as a girl, maybe it pulls on more heart strings, but this only goes to show an increasing level of ignorance amongst news organisations, and their lack of due diligence.