|"I have a weapon. / And the weapon takes me to war. Because behind the war is a name, a face, a flowering life to be counted, a village, an expectant bride. / Behind my weapon is me: of heart and soul, veins coursing, a dream delayed. In front is a target. / To shoot? Why, if it is a brother who drinks from the same breast as me? / I take a bath and drink the water of the river, my hands made into the shape of a shell. There is a man behind my weapon. There is a Man behind my weapon. There is a dream to build, reasons to comprehend, seeing that it is not the war that made me, but me that makes it. / Why do I do it? I explain: / I have a village to construct, a bride to wed, sons to raise. / They interrupted everything and said: go to war. / But even to war I loan the face of my humanity. / Profound, so profound that no general understands it. / I am not a general, but I understand it. / In my war I am me, in the simple act of existing, making it! / Look at my face: it is young, simple and capable of tenderness. / I am not the war. I wage it, eager for the moment when I can return home, to the warmth of the embrace of my loved one ... / I am a man!
Fernando Manuel, October 2001"
|Kok Nam, the son of Chinese emigrants from Canton who arrived in southern Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, was born in 1939 in LM, now Maputo. He got his first job, in the laboratory of 'Focus', at the end of 1954.
In 1966 he was invited to work as a 'repórter fotográfico' in the LM delegation of the Beira newspaper 'Diário de Moçambique', and he began shooting for the magazine 'Voz Africana' at the sametime. In 1968 he began working for the country's main daily 'Notícias' and its sister publication 'Notícias da Tarde', where he began to develop under the tutelage of Ricardo Rangel.
In 1970 he participated in the formation of 'Tempo'. During the 70's he covered all the main stories in the young nation's unfolding history, and he travelled with and documented the lives of the soldiers and leaders of FRELIMO. He eventually became the chief photographer, head of the photographic department and photo editor of 'Tempo'. In 1992 he participated in the formation of 'Mediacoop', which is today the proprietor of the first three independent publications, including the weekly newspaper 'Savana'.
His work has been published in the 'New York Times', 'Time Magazine', the 'Observer', the 'Independent', the Portuguese publication 'O Expresso' and many other international publications.
Kok Nam has participated in more than two dozen photographic exhibitions, including four solo shows, in Mozambique and “a bit all over the world”. He lives and works in Maputo, and is director of the weekly 'Savana'.