Diplomacy through the camera lens

Believe Nyakudjara Chief Photographer
He is a fountain of positive energy, an avid image maker and effective visual communicator whose ability to effortlessly switch between demanding tasks is a marvel. This year’s 21st February Movement celebrations in Matobo presented another opportunity for China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Huang Ping, to showcase his photographic skills on the first national event he has recorded locally.
Immediately after delivering a special birthday message to President Mugabe on behalf of China’s President Xi Jinping, Ambassador Huang grabbed his top-of-the-range cameras and comfortably assumed the role of photographer.
One could easily be forgiven for mistaking the top diplomat for a foreign journalist as he blended perfectly with other photojournalists who scrambled for “Kodak moments” during President Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations.
After hopping from the podium, the ambassador found his way to a vantage point at the picturesque venue, waiting expectantly for the right moments, ready to press the shutter release button.
His was all tact and patience – essential ingredients for every photojournalist.
“Using the camera is more powerful and more effective than the pen. People are not patient enough to read articles; they want pictures. A couple of pictures to tell them the story; then they will be very happy,” Ambassador Huang said when The Sunday Mail paid him a visit at China’s Embassy in Harare last Friday.
Armed with over three decades of exposure as a photographer, the self-taught camera whiz exudes passion and confidence. “I started it as a hobby, and as a diplomat I have the privilege of travelling everywhere with my camera. I have been to more than 100 countries. Many years ago when I was in Washington, there was a group of diplomats, a circle who liked to take pictures. So, I joined them and I got my two cameras on the first day.
“I have been through all the 10 provinces of this country since I came here and every time I travel, I carry my very special equipment. I am teaching my kids how I would like the young people to join me. This habit of taking pictures makes me feel like I am living happily on this planet. You don’t get good pictures if you don’t work hard.”
Ambassador Huang went on: “A picture tells more than a page of words; so this is not only a hobby, but also part of my work. It’s easier to keep records in pictures than text. “So, I think these pictures help me a lot in promoting Zimbabwe not only as a friendly country, but as a beautiful country with rich natural resources. So, all my friends are now coming because of my pictures. They are beginning to like Zimbabwe. We need to get them to know that it’s not only the Victoria Falls (which is attractive in Zimbabwe). Zimbabwe has a lot of cultural things to see.”
The diplomat is the honorary chair of the Chinese Photographers Association in Zimbabwe, a group with over 100 members.
“Sometimes I cannot take a picture, I have to be part of those being photographed … I would rather be a journalist at that moment, but you have to be there as an ambassador where you deliver a speech and attend a conference. “When ambassadors are all sitting there, I always want to jump. There are so many moments when you are taking pictures and you always feel that you can make it better should you be given another chance. There is no picture that is 100 percent; you will always have this feeling that you want to do it better.
“This is healthy and good hobby if you are mentally and physically doing the exercise. You have a very powerful feeling, which urges you to do things better. “
Ambassador Huang plans to publish a picture book on Zimbabwe.

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