Turning a Lens on Truth
“When covering the Mozambique floods in 2001 we brought worldwide attention and in the process many countless lives have been saved. My coverage stopped a small scale war in DRC. I managed to get into the besieged town of Bunia in 2003 and started photographing the atrocities. A week later the French send special forces in direct reaction to the coverage.”
Karel Prinsloo is an award winning Namibian photographer that has awards such as the World Press Photo Award under his belt. His early career includes working at the Republikein although this self-taught photographer has for over twenty five years, been covering photographic news stories all over Africa for numerous news outlets while doing humanitarian photography. He has been published major world publications including the New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek and more.
Karel’s work has taken him all over Africa to see some of the harshest conflict zones on the continent, but he says that his heart is still in Namibia and he hopes to make his way back one day soon.
99FM’s MYD Art caught up with Karel to talk about the rewards that bringing help brought, by being involved in documenting war zone and crisis situations in Africa.
“It started by accident. After high school I was desperately looking for a job. I decided I could be a journalist and went to the Republikein. They informed me they do not have an opening as a journalist but they have an opening as a photographer and asked if I would be interested. I started the next day and also ruined my first role of film by exposing it in daylight.”
What has been your most rewarding moment as a photographer?
“There are many, when covering the Mozambique floods in 2001 we brought worldwide attention and in the process many countless lives have been saved. Or when my coverage stopped a small scale war in DRC. I managed to get into the besieged town of Bunia in 2003 and started photographing the atrocities. A week later the French send special forces in direct reaction to the coverage. The war stopped the next day. Sadly Congo is still in turmoil.”
“The hardest thing is to get people to pay attention and to care. These days editorial money is a very scarce thing so our coverage is becoming less and less. We cannot tell peoples stories as they should be told. Without a witness terrible things can happen.”
You recently did a project on Namibian cultures, why did you choose this theme?
“I wanted to connect with my home again. I have been living outside of Namibia for so long now and started to feel that I am losing touch with my country.”
What did you learn while you photographed Namibian cultures?
“We are all the same; we are humans with the same issues and desires. We all want a decent life, a good education for our children and a better future for all.”
What do you love about being Namibian?
“We are special, we love this land and there is something about that open space. It grabs you and never let’s go of you. I love us as a nation. We are so diverse yet so similar. We must accept each other for who we are, different but all so much the same.”
Do you have any message for Namibia?
“I love you Namibia , I am still trying to make my way back to you. Don’t give up on me.”
Karel has been working mainly in Africa for over twenty years. He has covered conflicts and wars in Africa and the Middle East and has been based in Nairobi for nearly a decade as the Associated Press’s Chief photographer for East Africa. Currently he is a freelance photographer working on projects in Africa.
Karel is a World Press Photo Award winner , a runner-up in the CNN Africa Journalist of the Year photographic edition, as well the winner of the South African Photojournalist of the year.
You can find more of his images by clicking here