As I entered [the camp] I saw a young albino boy. To be a starving Biafran orphan was to be in a most pitiable situation, but to be a starving albino Biafran was to be in a position beyond description. Dying of starvation, he was still among his peers an object of ostracism, ridicule and insult…The boy looked at me with a fixity that evoked the evil eye in a way which harrowed me with guilt and unease. He was moving closer. He was haunting me, getting nearer. Someone was giving me the statistics of the suffering, the awful multiples of this tragedy. As I gazed at these grim victims of deprivation and starvation, my mind retreated to my own home in England where my children of much the same age were careless and cavalier with food, as Western children often are. Trying to balance between these two visions produced in me a kind of mental torment…I felt something touch my hand. The albino boy had crept close and moved his hand into mine. I felt tears come into my eyes as I stood there holding his hand. I thought, think of something else, anything else. Don’t cry in front of these kids…He looked hardly human, as if a tiny skeleton had somehow stayed alive…If I could, I would take this day out of my life, demolish the memory of it.
(A selection of work by McCullin is currently on display in Tate Britain; read an interview by Sean O'Hagan.)
|Sebastiao Salgado, Untitled, Mali, c1985|
Kevin Carter, Starving Child in Sudan, 1993
|James Nachtwey, Sudan, 1993|
|Robin Hammond, Having lost all her cattle to the drought and one child, Raha Abdi Nor brought her surviving children to Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu where they are being treated for severe malnutrition, 2011|
|Rankin, Turkana in Kenya (Oxfam)|