New Internationalist editor Dinyar Godrej’s email asking us to participate in the 400th issue of the magazine a few months ago was a great opportunity. But with Dhaka in flames and our own struggles to ensure some semblance of fairness in the elections, we passed it on to other activists.
Vanessa Baird’s subsequent email suggesting an issue of the New Internationalist based on our organization – the Drik photo agency and Pathshala photography school – as an example of how some of us in the Majority World are challenging the global information flow, came as an unexpected reprieve.
Our immediate political problems in Bangladesh hadn’t gone away. A tribal activist had been brutally killed by the army, and a journalist friend who had been courageously reporting on military misrule had been picked up in the middle of the night.
So things were far from easy on the home front, but writing about, and showing, what had been our central struggle over the last 20 years was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. We had all lived it. More importantly, with our majorityworld.com site up and running and slowly beginning to get pictures into print, we weren’t just talking about change. We were witnessing it taking place.
This issue of the magazine could hardly have been better timed. Majority World photographers embraced the idea: from the small studio of VAST – a voluntary artists association in Bhutan – to a crammed office room in Santa Cruz, Bolivia; from the enthusiastic Photo Circle in Kathmandu to a hotel lobby in Dili, Timor Leste.
Our FTP site has been busy and the pictures – some of which are featured in the pages of this issue – have been flowing in. After years of trying to persuade others, Majority World photographers have taken things into their own hands. Watch this space.
Shahidul Alam, Drik/Pathshala for the New Internationalist Co-operative
The above editorial had been written several weeks ago, but the magazine has just hit the stands. Links to the PDFs of the magazine follow. The online version should be up on the NI site in about six weeks.
26th July 2007. Manila.