By Vasco Chaya
Former Oliver Mtukudzi publicist Shepherd Mutamba has caused a furore over a picture he published in the second edition of Tuku Backstage showing the lifeless body of the late Sam Mtukudzi.
The graphic picture shows the body of Sam covered by a blanket, with his parents, Oliver and Daisy wailing beside the body before the burial.
Sam died in 2010 after being involved in a horrific road accident along Harare-Bulawayo Road.
Mutamba told the Daily News that there was nothing wrong about his picture.
“I am a civilised human being and sensitive to matters of bereavement. People must appreciate that the second book is a documentary that captures events photographically and exactly how things happened. Thousands of mourners viewed Sam’s body even people who had never met Sam.
“That is what we generally do in African traditions…we do body viewing as an opportunity for mourners to bid our deceased loved ones farewell. The picture shows that Sam’s body was well covered by a blanket and neither injury nor his face is visible in the picture. His fans, friends and even family across the world who didn’t attend the funeral can look at the picture and see his last moments before burial. I don’t think the picture is out of context or insensitive,” Mutamba said.
Television personality Rebecca “Mai Chisamba” Chisamba condemned the idea of posting or publishing pictures showing dead bodies on all forms of media.
She said publishing pictures showing dead bodies or circulating them on social media was un-African and terrible.
“In our culture, circulating pictures showing bodies of deceased is unethical and heartless as we have a culture of respecting the dead.
“The act of circulating pictures showing bodies will do more harm than good in society as the pictures will keep on revoking sad memories to the affected families,” she said.
Veteran author and playwright Aaron Moyo differs with Mai Chisamba’s view saying circulating or publishing pictures of the dead in the media helps to tell a story.
“Pictures are used to illustrate a story and they can explain a story more effectively than words hence I do not see any problem for that,” he said.
“Books are meant for different readers. If the authors publish horror pictures in books meant to be read by adults I do not see much problem on that unless if the book is for children.”
“In society, some readers prefer tabloid newspapers that thrive on nudity and sex stories while others prefer broad sheets papers for more decent stories. If the picture is not suitable for you then you should flip through to other pages,” Moyo said.
Moyo said the world is revolving so fast that what used to be unethical is now considered okay by the society.
“Back in the day, children were not allowed to attend a funeral ceremonies but it has since changed. Nowadays, children are the ones who are performing rituals on funerals. Nowadays pictures showing dead people can be taken as just any other pictures no wonder why people are no longer even putting a disclaimer while posting ‘sensitive’ information on social media,” he said.
“As for Mutamba, I am sure his book was not meant to be used in schools hence I do not see the picture as bad. He self-funds the project hence nothing could stop him from putting pictures of his choice.” DailyNews