Today’s photograph comes from Karamoja, a region in Uganda, an East African country. Uganda is counted among the poorest countries in the world. It is the second most populous land-locked country in the world. In 1980, a famine struck the Karamoja region. The famine was so severe that 21% population of the region died. More than 60% of infants lost their lives in this famine. As per the mortality rate, this was the worst famine in the history.
This photograph is yet another stark reminder of disparity in our world. Some people have too much of resources to handle and some others have too little to survive on (Remember that Biafra famine photo?). In my view, this photograph is also an example of the fact that simplicity is great. It’s a very simple photograph but still it send a very powerful message. What does this photo show? Nothing but just two hands! And yet this powerful photograph is capable of immediately sending anyone down the spiral of introspection. This photograph yells a challenge at the viewer. It tells the tale of two contrasting worlds existing within one.
Taken by Mike Wells in April 1980, the photograph shows hand of a emaciated, starving Ugandan boy in the hand of a missionary. Wells took this photo in Karamoja district of Uganda. Later he sent the photo for publication but it remained unpublished. The publishing company, instead of publishing it, entered the photo into a competition. And the photograph won the prize. Mike Wells felt ashamed that he took the photograph of a starving child. His dilemma was pretty much similar to that of Kevin Carter (the photographer who took the photo of a Sudanese girl and a vulture) Mike Wells himself did not intend to enter it in the competition as he was against winning competition with pictures of hungry poor people.
The 1980 famine in Uganda was caused by drought and conflicts. More than 30,000 people lost their lives during this event. In 1980 Mike Wells won the World Press Photograph of the Year award for this image.
I hope that you’ll think about the message that this photograph conveys. Please feel free to comment and let me know your views. I value my readers’ feedback.