Revisiting Empathy and Kevin Carter Tragedy, By Kelechi Okoronkwo

Revisiting Empathy and Kevin Carter Tragedy, By Kelechi Okoronkwo


Issues: Revisiting Empathy and Kevin Carter Tragedy, By Kelechi Okoronkwo

It has been more than 24 years after Kevin Carter died by taking his own life. But the circumstances that led to his tragic end remain evergreen, poking our consciousness on how to live.

Sometimes, opportunity presents itself to us with temptation to exploit other people. At that situation, unguided people would jump at such opportunities. But the end consequences are always dire, mostly violent death.

Look at the photo above very well. You might have come across it before or even know the story behind it. But there is an angle to it I want to share with us today. 

Working hard is necessary for our success. But there is something that is as important or even more important than hard work. It is EMPATHY. Empathy means having a human face or human feelings. It means putting yourself in the shoes of the other person. Hard work can give you money but it is empathy that will give you the peace to enjoy the money. Hard work will buy you a car, house or marry you a wife, but it is empathy that will make you enjoy your wealth.

These days, suicide rate is alarming. According a World Health Organisation (WHO) data in 2016, Nigeria ranks number 15 (with 17.3 percent suicide rate) out of 180 countries studied on suicide activities. Statistics portray that suicide rate is growing from 10.7 percent reported globally in 2016. One intriguing fact is that some people who are successful by some estimation are also taking their own lives. Not quite long ago, we read about a medical doctor in Lagos who drove her Sports Utility Vehicle to the bridge, alighted from the car and jumped into the lagoon. There are many incidences of suicide that irk our imaginations. Reason may not be far from the fact that some people pursue material achievement without balancing it with things that could grantee their peace of mind.

The photo above is popularly known as “The Vulture and the Little Girl”. It is a real-life story. It is a picture of a vulture waiting for a starving Sudanese girl to die was taken in 1993 by Kevin Carter, a South African photojournalist, who later won the Pulitzer (an International Award for arts worth 10 thousand Dollars then) for this picture. But he lived just few months to enjoy his supposed achievement because he later got depressed and took his own life.  

He was actually enjoying his achievement and being celebrated on major news channels and networks worldwide.

His depression reportedly started when during one of such interviews (phone in program) someone phoned in and asked him what happened to the child. He replied, “I didn’t wait to find out after this shot as I had a plane to catch.”…  And the person replied,

 “I put it to you that there were two vultures on that day. One had a camera”.

 His constant thought of that statement, led to depression and his ultimate suicide on July 27th, 1994 at the age of 33.

In whatsoever we do, let humanity come first before what we can gain out of the situation. 

Kevin Carter could have been alive today if he just picked that little girl up and taken her to the United Nation’s feeding center where she was reportedly attempting to reach. 

For us, by all standards, we are hardworking. And success is coming. If we add humanness to our achievements, our success will be sweeter and we will be happier. We might be tempted to exploit other people in order to hit our target or to silence the voice of the weak so our voice is the only one to be heard. Discerning hearts do not fall into such temptations. A soul that would live in peace would not enjoy hurting others just to have your own way. Great souls show their humanness and feel the pain of others. This is just a food for thought.

Kelechi Okoronkwo, a Nigerian writer and Public Relations Executive sent this piece from Abuja

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