Thursday, 10 July 2008

Photo opportunities

I just can't stop looking at the photographs flooding in from Zimbabwe.  I don't want to but I can't stop.  Hundreds and hundreds of photos, broken, bloodied bodies.  The woman beaten so badly that her buttocks have been reduced to a mass of shredded flesh - the man beaten on the soles of the feet - the six year old boy with the swollen, bruised face -  the decomposing body of the MDC driver shot in the back with his trousers round his ankles.  On and on it goes and I can't stop looking.  I gorge unwilling, on the blood, the flesh and after a while the images merge into one.  Maybe if I keep on looking, the pain will subside and they'll just become pictures.

It's the ordinary, everyday details that really jar.  See the picture of the man with his fingernails removed?  He bought his shirt from the Farmer's Co-op... I can't believe they're still selling those shirts!  Look at Tendai Biti, shackled and manacled in prison... he's wearing an Arsenal top just like the man in the greengrocers down the road!  Check the photo of the man lying dead on the ground with that stick still embedded in his torso...  those huts in the background look just like the huts on the way to the lake!  The mundane details of life become infused with horror.

On and on and on it goes.  I walk down the High Road to the post office and I look at the faces of the people on the street and I wonder - if this madness was happening here, in Britain, in London, who would be the torturer and who would be the tortured?

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