Ugandan climate activist vows to fight on after ‘white-only’ photo

By Taddeo Bwambale

Nakatte, while attending a youth climate science event in Davos, Switzerland last week took part in a photoshoot after a press conference that turned out differently.

Nakate1 350x210

CLIMATE  RACISM   

Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist at the centre of perceived racist coverage by an international news agency says she has been emboldened to fight for her cause.

Nakatte, while attending a youth climate science event in Davos, Switzerland last week took part in a photoshoot after a press conference that turned out differently.

A news article of the event carried an accompanying photo in which she had been cropped out, leaving only her white fellow activists.

Nakatte had appeared alongside activists Greta Thunberg, Isabelle Axelsson, Luisa Neubauer and Loukina Tille. The revelation drew wide condemnation from activists and organisations.

"This is the first time in my life that I understood the definition of the word racism," Nakate said in a video statement released online after the incident.


"Why did you remove me from the photo? I was part of the group!" Nakate confronted AP about the incident in her Twitter rant. 

In a statement released on Friday, the Associated Press news agency (AP) Executive Editor Sally Buzbee apologized for the incident. 

"We regret publishing a photo this morning that cropped out Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the only person of colour in the photo. As a news organization, we care deeply about accurately representing the world that we cover," Buzbee said.

"We train our journalists to be sensitive to issues of inclusion and omission. We have spoken internally with our journalists and we will learn from this error in judgment," she added.

"You didn't just erase a photo. You erased a continent. But I am stronger than ever," Nakate said later on Twitter. Thunberg said the incident was "completely unacceptable."

The AP article Nakate referred to was updated and contains an image showing her and other climate activists during a news conference.

The unfortunate incident has reignited a debate about the media coverage of persons of colour. It has also attracted sympathy and support for Nakatte’s cause.