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Harare Hosts World Press Photo Exhibition

The National Gallery in Harare, Zimbabwe, is currently hosting its first big show of the year. The showcase is the internationally renowned World Press Photo exhibition, which runs until early March. Derek Moyo reports.

Evelien Kunst is an education officer at the Amsterdam-based World Press Photo Foundation. She says the images currently on show in Harare were chosen from more than 80-thousand submitted from across the globe two years ago, in 2006.

“The World Press Photo Exhibition is actually an exhibition with the prize winning photos of the annual contest that we organize. It’s open to photographers from all over the world. They enter and we get about thousands of pictures every year, then we select a jury of professionals [which] selects the winners,” says Kunst.

The winning image in the exhibit was taken by Spencer Platt from the United States. The photo was taken in August 2006 in Beirut, Lebanon. It features several youths driving through bombed-out and crumbling buildings, in a sporty red convertible.

Kunst explained that the photo won for its unusual portrayal of the war.

“Why the picture won is because it was an unexpected picture of war. People usually when they think of war, they think of only drama. You don't expect beautiful people to be involved in a war. This image tells that story in a shocking way which makes you look at the picture even two times or three times.”

Some of the other exhibited images include one by Nigerian photographer Akintunde Akinleye, of a man at the scene of a petrol pipeline explosion in Lagos, Nigeria.

There are also images of soccer stars like David Beckham and Didier Drogba. Another captures the head butting of Italian footballer Marco Matarazzi by French player Zinedine Zidane during the 2006 World Cup final.

Kunst said such pictures are important because they tell a story, in one frame. She says she hopes the exhibition will inform people about world events.

“It's a collection of images from various categories and so you will see various kinds of things that happen around the world. It makes you see things you have never seen, it makes you see news, it makes you understand events, it makes you understand stories that you might never have heard of.”

The exhibition does not feature any Zimbabwean images.

But Kunst says the 2007 edition will feature a photo taken by a Zimbabwean photographer, Boldwill Hungwe, who works for the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers. He took a photo in March 2007 which shows police disrupting a meeting of the Save Zimbabwe Coalition. The incident included the severe beating of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai by authorities.