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All black people look alike

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Something to write home about is a book to buy.

It’s a compilation of reflections and stories from journalists covering Africa published by Jacana in South Africa. Many famous journalists contributed their work free of charge, donating all royalties to two special funds: The Miguel Gil Moreno Foundation and the Kerem Lawton Fund. Contributors include CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the BBC’s Fergal Keane and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich.

Alexander Joe, a Zimbabwean-born photographer who is now based in South Africa is also a contributor to Something to write home about. Below is an excerpt from Alexander Joe’s story called All black people look alike:

During the Rwandan genocide, the Red Cross invited the media to accompany them in a convoy carrying food into Rwanda from Burundi. Two French women journalists and myself, a black photographer, accepted their offer.

When we got to the Red Cross in Bujumbura they refused me permission to accompany them. I was told by a white Red Cross worker that it was too dangerous for me as a black person to enter Rwanda.

“If the Tutsis don’t kill you, then the Hutus will,” he said. In his eyes all black people look alike, despite the fact that I come from Zimbabwe. A Rwandan or a Burundian black person could see from a mile away that I don’t come from the same region.

So the two women and I decided to go into Rwanda on our own. At the first check point of Hutu militia we came across, they immediately started shouting “Belgium! Belgium!” at my two white colleagues.

It was quite ironic for me that now to black people “all white people looked alike” to the Hutu militia during the genocide all white people were the Belgian enemy, and if it weren’t for me, my white friends would have had a hard time. The Hutus could see I was from a different part of the continent without me even having to say a word.

One comment to “All black people look alike”

  1. Comment by ovidio:

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