Editor’s Note
November 2013
Bearing Witness
A family braves the streets of Kano in northern Nigeria.
Ed Kashi

In the photograph the woman’s face is etched with anxiety. She is crossing a street with her family on their way to church. The black metal carapace of a water-cannon truck looms in the background. You can sense she is walking quickly. The streets of Kano, in northern Nigeria, are dangerous and no place to linger. It’s all there in the picture—fear, apprehension, defiance, and, in the black truck, a reminder of the daily brutality people face.

Why cover a place, as we do this month, like northern Nigeria—a place so beset by insurgency and corruption, so full of sadness and violence?

“To tell stories that need to be told,” answers Ed Kashi, the story’s photographer. To bear witness. To hope the story adds to the conversation. Perhaps to make a difference.

“We tend to forget that in much of the world people live not just in poverty but close to death and violence,” author James Verini says. “They live in places where governments don’t care about them. The question I like to ask is, What do you do, how do you survive, when death is so near and you have no options?”

Who will speak for this woman crossing the street? Not the government. Not the terrorists who bomb churches, schools, and mosques. Violence, we know all too well, has no borders. It matters that we pay attention to and report these stories. “When I see someone struggling, it’s in my DNA to help,” Ed Kashi says.

If only by bearing witness to a frightened woman crossing the street.

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