The World Press Photo Awards for 2020 was announced recently.
And the award was won by Japanese photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba of AFP for a photograph titled ‘Straight Voice.’
The captivating photograph shows depicts an image from the popular uprising in Sudan last year. It shows a demonstrator passionately reciting protest poetry while the other crowd of protesters surrounding him are illuminating him with light from their phones, chanting slogans calling for civilian rule. The photo was captured in Khartoum, Sudan during a blackout on 19 June 2019.
Background of the photograph
By April 2019, civilians in Sudan had begun revolting against the dictator Omar al-Bashir, demanding an end to his 30-year-old rule. He was ousted in a military coup on 11 April but the protests continued demanding for the power to be transferred to civilian groups. On 3rd June, the government opened fire on unarmed protesters, an event leading to widespread condemnation by the international community and more protests. The government sought to defuse the protest by authoritarian means such as resorting to internet shutdowns and blackouts. However, on 17th August, the pro-democracy movement successfully signed a power-sharing agreement with the military.
The winner, Yasuyoshi Chiba is Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) Chief Photographer for East Africa and Indian Ocean, currently based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Yasuyoshi Chiba, World Press Photo of the Year winner, said: “The place was a total blackout. Then, unexpectedly, people started clapping hands in the dark. People held up mobile phones to illuminate a young man in the center. He recited a famous protest poem, an improvised one. Between his breath, everybody shouted ‘thawra’, the word revolution in Arabic. His facial expression and voice impressed me, I couldn’t stop focusing on him and captured the moment.”
Jury chair Lekgetho Makola said that the photo “inspires people” despite the fact that it was taken at a time of intense conflict and revolt.
“We see this young person, who is not shooting, who is not throwing a stone, but reciting a poem,” he said. “It’s acknowledging, but also voicing a sense of hope.”
The photograph was selected from over 70,000 photos submitted by over 4,000 photographers from 125 countries across the world.
What is World Press Photo Award?
The World Press Photo Award recognizes “professional photographers for the best pictures contributing to the past year of visual journalism.” Hosted by the independent, non-profit foundation World Press Photo that is based out of Amsterdam, Netherlands, the first award was given away in 1955.
To view the winners in other categories, click here.
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