Courtesy of Ilvy Njiokiktjien
Diversity is our strength
As we move further forward into the 21st century, and our planet becomes smaller with increased internet connectivity and global travel, we see greater cross-cultural human interaction, but also a rise in tensions as culture, religion, politics and economies collide. Compounded by climate change and strains on resources, these tensions are likely to become a significant challenge to governments and institutions over the next decade. But yet, diversity is the DNA of humanity and its development of art and culture.
Unity in diversity is used as an expression of harmony and unity between dissimilar individuals or groups. It is a concept of "unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation"[Lalonde] that shifts focus from unity based on a mere tolerance of physical, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological and/or psycholog cal differences towards a more complex unity based on an understanding that difference enriches human interactions.
Nelson Mandela was committed to the idea of different cultures enriching each other: "Unity in Diversity" is a phrase we use often in South Africa, which is also a country of widely diverse peoples and cultures. These differences were misused by apartheid in order to divide our nation. But today our diversity is a source of strength. We are a nation of many colours and cultures, but forming a harmonious unity like a rainbow after a heavy storm. (Indonesia, 1997)
Without the contributions of people unfamiliar to us, the meals we enjoy the most would be a lot less enjoyable. Without the tomatoes brought home to Italy from the “New World,” Italians would be hard-pressed to make lasagna. Without the spinach introduced to Italy by Arabs, even a vegetarian lasagna would be a disappointment.
Similarly, the field of photography was created and expanded by artists from all over the world: the English port ait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, the Vietnamese combat photographer Nick Ut, the street photographers, Daido Moriyama of Japan and Malick Sidibe of Mali. Little Luxembourg gave us Edward Steichen who showed the breadth of The Family of Man. New York City gave us Diane Arbus who reminded us that the family of man includes carnival performers, nudists, cross-dressers and marginalized people of all shapes and sizes.
To compete for the BarTur Photo Award, we are looking for commentary on Unity in Diversity. Your work should encourage us to find unity in the variety of human experience.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”