Shah Marai, The Photojournalist the World Lost

We remember AFP's chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai

The formidable photojournalist Shah Marai was tragically killed this week in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was one of 9 journalists who were targeted by the Taliban on the 30th of April.

Marai’s story is one of remarkable resilience. Shah Marai, 42, was from a family that is genetically disposed to blindness. He was one of the sole income earners for his extended family members. He started his career in 1996 at Agence-France Presse as a driver and blossomed into their chief photographer in Afghanistan. He bore witness to the world the fall of the Taliban and their relentless struggle for past two decades. Being a photographer under the Taliban was deadly and he took measures to protect himself. He explained in a 2016 essay,  “They hated journalists,so I was always very discreet — I always made sure to put on the traditional shalwar kameez outfit when going outside and I took pictures with a small camera that I hid in a scarf wrapped around my hand.”

After witnessing his country fall further into a hopeless state, Marai maintained his happy disposition and is remembered for his humor. The world lost one of the most devoted photojournalists and today we honor Shah Marai.

In 2009 Marai photographed a supporter of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah caught in a beam of light as she made her way to a campaign event. Shah Marai/AFP
Marai also documented daily life and some of the more positive events in the country. Here a child is given the polio vaccine during a countrywide immunization campaign in 2010. Shah Marai/AFP
Afghans on a fairground ride at the Park Shahar or City Park, in Kabul. Shah Marai/AFP
Ten years ago, Marai was at Camp Bastion in Helmand when then British PM Gordon Brown addressed British soldiers. Shah Marai/AFP
Marai also covered political events in the country. Here then Afghan President Hamid Karzai and US Senator John Kerry were pictured laughing during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul in 2009. Shah Marai/AFP
After years of being cloistered in their homes during Taliban rule, in 2008 Afghan women were pictured by Marai as they attended a gym in Herat. Shah Marai/AFP


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