PRETORIA, South Africa – A South African photographer is being honored for helping expose apartheid's brutality to the world with a picture that ended his career.
On Wednesday, celebrated as Freedom Day in South Africa because it is the anniversary of the country's first all-race elections, President Jacob Zuma will bestow national honors on Sam Nzima for a photograph reminiscent of the "Pieta" he took showing a dying Hector Pieterson, a 13-year-old shot by police during the June 16, 1976 Soweto uprising.
Nzima is receiving the Order of Ikhamanga, which recognizes South Africans who excel in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport. He joins such past winners as jazz legend Hugh Masekela and novelist Alan Paton.
Nzima said in an interview Wednesday his photograph seen around the world "tells the story of what happened. You don't even need a caption to see that something terrible has happened."
Nzima, 75, said police were so enraged by the attention his photograph drew, he feared they would kill him. He left Johannesburg and his newspaper to become a businessman in a small eastern South African town.
But his photograph continued to draw attention. Nzima has spoken to students at a German high school named for Pieterson, and attended exhibitions that included his photograph in the United States, Briton and the Netherlands. Later this year, he will go to Belgium.