An image by Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba* of a young man, illuminated by mobile phones, reciting protest poetry while demonstrators chant slogans calling for civilian rule during a blackout in Khartoum on June 19 2019, has been named as World Press Photo of the Year 2020.
The then ruling military junta that overthrew the 30-year dictatorship of Omar Al Bashir in April 11, following the massacre during the break-up of the sit-in at the General Command of the army in Khartoum on June 3, ordered an internet blackout, asserting that the internet was “a threat to national security”. This resulted in Sudan being effectively digitally cut-off from the outside world for a period of 38 days.
In reaction to this evening’s announcement, winner Yasuyoshi Chiba said: “This moment was the only peaceful group protest I encountered during my stay [in Khartoum]. I felt their undefeated solidarity like burning embers that remain to flare up again.”
Lekgetho Makola, head of Market Photo Workshop and 2020 Photo Contest jury chair, said: “Especially in the time that we’re living in when there’s a lot of violence and a lot of conflicts, it’s important that we have an image that inspires people.”
He described the winning photograph: “We see this young person, who is not shooting, who is not throwing a stone, but reciting a poem. It’s acknowledging, but also voicing a sense of hope.”
‘I felt their undefeated solidarity like burning embers that remain to flare up again’ – Yasuyoshi Chiba
Chris McGrath, photographer for Getty Images and 2020 jury member, added: “It was just a really beautiful, quiet photograph that summed up all the unrest across the globe of people wanting change.”
The World Press Photo Contest rewards photographers for the best single exposure pictures contributing to the past year of visual journalism. Whether entered as singles or stories, these pictures are judged in terms of their accurate, fair, and visually compelling insights about our world.
The winners of the 2020 Photo Contest and the 2020 Digital Storytelling Contest – including the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year and the three other major awards, were announced this evening through online and media channels.
They were to be presented at the World Press Photo Awards Show 2020 and the World Press Photo Festival 2020 due to be held in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam on 16-18 April, however the event was cancelled by the organisers considering the global situation surrounding the Covid-19 virus.
“The safety of our community, staff, and society outweighs all other considerations,” the organisers said on their website.
* Yasuyoshi Chiba, from Japan, is Agence France-Presse (AFP)’s chief photographer for East Africa and Indian Ocean and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. After studying photography at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, he started working as a staff photographer for Asahi Shimbun. He became a freelance photographer and moved to Kenya in 2007, and then joined AFP in Brazil in 2011.
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