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Date Published: 01/13/11

The Kevin Carter Picture By Imohimi Uduigwome

They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words. In March 19993 Kevin Carter became famous for his award winning picture that made the front page of the New York Times. It was a picture he took in Sudan of a starvation ravaged little girl crawling along a dusty road desperately trying to get to the United Nation’s clinic oblivious of a vulture waiting in the background for an opportunity to devour her! The photographer, Kevin Carter who took the heart wrenching picture, did not deem it fit to help the child who was at the point of death by carrying her to the U.N clinic but simply (after snapping the scene with his camera) went to take a smoke under the shade of a tree to watch the macabre drama of the vulture waiting to feast on the hapless child!

If I may say, the picture succinctly captures the current situation in Nigeria. Obviously the vulture represents our greedy politicians waiting to feast on hapless Nigerians, represented by the starving little girl. However unlike the girl that had a single vulture stalking her, Nigerians have thousands of vultures, political vultures hovering above waiting to feast on our resources and on the hapless citizens they claim to govern. If politicians are truly interested in service, why will they bribe voters, hire thugs to steal ballot boxes and employ other various sinister and clandestine methods to maneuver their way into political office?

Kevin Carter, the photographer, did nothing to rescue the child from the vulture because he was only interested in his job and benefits accruable from the photograph which eventually won him the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. In Nigeria we have Kevin Carter in majority of our elders, traditional rulers, and religious leaders. We have elders who instead of telling politicians that people are suffering prefer to lobby politicians for contracts, oil blocs and political appointments for their children. Religious leaders abound who instead of admonishing political looters, opt to pray for them and reserve front rows for them at worship centres. The poor are publicly reprimanded by these religious leaders while professional pillaging politicians are publicly honoured and showcased as model and upright citizens. We must not forget the Kevin Carter traditional rulers who preside over domains with bad roads and where their people have no access to health care or potable water and yet decide to bestow traditional tittles on politicians because of monetary gratification expected from political vultures.


The Kevin Carter award winning picture is the picture of the Nigeria we have been whining and agonizing about for decades. A picture of where people who can effect positive changes in the polity do nothing because of pecuniary benefits, a picture where the citizens are starving and have remained hapless for decades, a picture where for decades politicians have been feeding fat on hapless citizens like vultures feasting on its ill fated prey. Is Nigeria ill fated, will its citizens continue to remain hapless, will those who are considered elders in the society act like responsible elders and speak out against the rot in the society or will they abandon the people to their fate like Kevin Carter who failed to help the little girl? As we embark upon another round of elections will the picture change in 2011 or will it remain the same?

Imohimi Uduigwome

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