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Tyler Hicks took this photo of a woman sheltering her children on the floor of a cafe at the Westgate Mall during an attack by militants in Nairobi on Sept. 21, 2013. The woman later contacted Hicks and told him she kept her kids quiet and still by singing along to songs that were playing on the mall loudspeakers. (The New York Times)

Tyler Hicks Tells The Story Behind His Pulitzer-Winning Nairobi Mall Photos

Apr 24, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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A woman leaps from a vent at a sushi restaurant in the Westgate Mall where she took refuge during the attacks. Hundreds of injured shoppers and staff streamed out of the Westgate Mall. "I knew immediately that this had to be something more serious than just a robbery," Hicks says. Plainclothes police officers search the mall for gunmen. Hicks was inside the mall for about two hours. Family, friends and colleagues attend the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi. Macharia, who worked at the Westgate Mall's Art Cafe, was killed in the attack. Tyler Hicks is a New York Times staff photographer based in Kenya. He has just won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

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A few days after winning a Pulitzer Prize for his photos of a 2013 terrorist attack in a Nairobi mall, Tyler Hicks received an email. It was from one of the women he'd photographed that day — sheltering her two young children on the floor of a cafe. She had heard about the Pulitzer and seen her photo on The New York Times website.

"It's very rare to have access to people in chaotic scenes like this," Hicks tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "You take someone's picture, it's this amazing scene and then you never find out what happened to them. ... I called her and we had a Skype video talk and it was incredible. She showed me her children, a 2-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, and told me the whole story: how they laid there for five hours. ... They could smell the smoke from the gunpowder and she told me how they got through this."

The attack at Westgate Mall was the work of Islamist extremists, killing more than 65 people and injuring many more. Hicks rushed into the mall after the attack began and took pictures as the story unfolded.

Hicks is a photographer for The New York Times and has risked his life many times to cover war and conflict in such places as Kosovo, Chechnya, Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan and Iraq. He first went to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and has returned every year since. The Pulitzer citation commends his skill and bravery.

Hicks was held captive in Libya for nearly a week, along with three other journalists, including New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid. Less than a year later, Hicks and Shadid sneaked over the Turkish border to cover the civil war in Syria. Later, as they tried to sneak out of Syria, Shadid died of a severe asthma attack, and Hicks, who was in shock, had to figure out how to get Shadid's body back across the border into Turkey.


Interview Highlights

On coincidentally being near the Westgate Mall after the attack began, and deciding to go inside

I didn't just blindly run in. I first believed this to be a robbery gone wrong, and that wouldn't be something I'd normally take risks for — that's not a big, important news event. There are a lot of violent robberies in Kenya and it's something that you just stay away from. When first I approached the mall I could see ... hundreds of people running in terror away from that building, through the parking lot out onto the street — really spilling out onto the street. I knew immediately that this had to be something more serious than just a robbery.

As I got up closer to the mall, I could see ... people coming out, clearly who had been shot. People with blood splattered on their faces being pushed out of this mall by other civilians in shopping carts, literally using shopping carts as gurneys and wheelchairs for people who couldn't walk.

A little bit later, about 45 minutes later, after I had seen that ... some people had been killed, their bodies laying on the front steps of the mall ... it was clear to me that this was something far bigger and serious enough that it warranted the attempt to get inside to see what was happening.

On how he ended up taking the photo of the woman sheltering her children

It's a very exposed vantage point so I didn't spend a lot of time there. But I looked down and saw this incredible scene of a young woman with two children hiding on the floor of a cafe. You could see shell casings all around them from bullets and they were just petrified, they were completely still and ... to me, that photograph really sums up what happened there. Outside of the frame, all around them and on the floor of this mall were bodies, a man next to an ATM ... a woman still holding a shopping bag who had been killed, and they somehow managed to avoid that.

On how the woman kept her kids quiet for five hours throughout the attack

The music that plays in the shopping mall — just kind of this tranquil music — was still playing throughout this whole thing, so amidst the gunfire and all the action that was happening, you had this kind of mall music that played throughout the entire attack. She actually was singing along with those songs to her children to keep them calm and quiet — especially the young boy who she said rarely can sit still for five minutes and she had to keep him calm and quiet for five hours.

On being kidnapped along with his driver and three other journalists in Libya

The thing that I really thought about the most and will for the rest of my life is taking risks that affect other people — that have consequences for other people. In this case, the 21-year-old driver [who was killed], that's on my shoulders forever. And that is a lesson that I hope that will protect myself and the people that I work with for the duration of my career.

And that's what I can take out of that, as small as that is: to know when enough is enough, to know when to leave, to listen to the people around you — local people who know more about the place than you do. If they say it's time to go, then go, because if you stay and something happens to them, that's a horrible, horrible thing that's not reversible. ...

[We were] driven across the Libyan desert in the back of open pickup trucks — bound and blindfolded and beaten — and I actually watched a guy at a checkpoint just come up and closed-fist punch [New York Times photographer] Lynsey Addario in the face. She had pieces of her hair pulled out. We got pretty roughed up on that trip, both physically and emotionally, and it does take a lot out of you. None of us would ever want that to happen again.

On how covering war has affected him

I think in the moment — meaning in that time that you're there, whether it's a week or 10 days or two weeks, whatever it is — you can kind of tuck that aside and continue to do the work. I find that it's more after that you realize how much you're shaken in these things.

I remember not long after [an assignment in Afghanistan] I was back in the states, I was in Connecticut with my sister and we were just going for a run. We were down by the beach in my hometown and there was some work being done on a house and there was a hydraulic nail gun that they were using and it really sounds a lot like incoming gunfire with this thing. As we were running they put a few nails in and I literally almost hit the ground and my sister's reaction was like, "Oh my God, you should look at yourself, man. You totally thought you were just being shot at."

And it's true; you can't deny that that's a natural protective instinct that you gain through these things.

On being with reporter Anthony Shadid when he died from an asthma attack while sneaking across the border between Turkey and Syria

Anthony and I organized a trip to cross into Syria from eastern Turkey and to do that was pretty difficult at the time — having to link up with smugglers, this pretty rough-cut group of people who bring you at night across the border; you have to climb through barbed wire fences, run across fields; some of them are on horseback, they're also bringing guns and ammunition across. It was very surreal to be with them and to be crossing at night like this. ...

He had told me beforehand that he had asthma — he couldn't be around dogs, and these kind of things, but I didn't know a lot about asthma.... [Shadid had had an asthma attack on his first trip across the border and] both Anthony and I were both concerned about the horses and him having another attack. He was more prepared on the way out with antihistamines and inhalers and a [scarf] that he bought there to cover his face. We told the smugglers on the way out that we did not want to have any horses near us — that we would just do everything by foot and within 10 minutes of starting the journey back down the mountain Anthony started to have the same type of reaction that I had seen him have on the way up.

He was still talking, I had my arm around him, helping him walk. There were dogs barking. This is a route that you have to move quickly on, there can be any number of people out there to get you, so the dogs are an alert. ... We walked probably another minute or so and he stopped — there was a boulder on the side of the trail, he put his hands up on the side of the boulder to rest and just collapsed and that was it.

He died there on the trail, not too far from the Turkish border. I performed CPR on him for about a half an hour and it was clear that he was gone. The smugglers who were with us, of course didn't speak English, I don't speak Arabic, so then I lost my ability to communicate. ...

Anthony's wife and his son were in Turkey waiting for him to return from this trip, where he was planning to write, so that was really the saddest thing I've ever had to do in my life was to face his wife and his young boy and explain to them what happened.

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Neil Young in a recording booth, tracking a cover of Bert Jansch's "Needle Of Death." (Courtesy of the artist)

Neil Young Covers Bert Jansch's 'Needle Of Death'

Apr 24, 2014

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A woman leaps from a vent at a sushi restaurant in the Westgate Mall where she took refuge during the attacks. Hundreds of injured shoppers and staff streamed out of the Westgate Mall. "I knew immediately that this had to be something more serious than just a robbery," Hicks says. Plainclothes police officers search the mall for gunmen. Hicks was inside the mall for about two hours. Family, friends and colleagues attend the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi. Macharia, who worked at the Westgate Mall's Art Cafe, was killed in the attack. Tyler Hicks is a New York Times staff photographer based in Kenya. He has just won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

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This video shows Neil Young cramped with his guitar in a small space about the size of a phone booth. It's actually a refurbished 1947 "Voice-O-Graph," a sort of self-contained studio that records and presses vinyl records. Guitarist and producer Jack White acquired the booth for his Third Man Records label. All of the songs on Young's new covers album, A Letter Home, were made with the device.

Bert Jansch's "Needle Of Death," originally released on his self-titled album in 1965, was the inspiration for Young's own song "The Needle And The Damage Done," from 1972's Harvest. Other songs on A Letter Home include Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country," Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" and Willie Nelson's "Crazy."

While A Letter Home was originally released on vinyl only, for Record Store Day, a deluxe version, due out May 27, will include a CD and a link to download a digital copy of the album.

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Pope Francis as he celebrated communion last July in Brazil. (Getty Images)

Pope OKs Communion For The Divorced? Not So Fast, Vatican Says

Apr 24, 2014

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A woman leaps from a vent at a sushi restaurant in the Westgate Mall where she took refuge during the attacks. Hundreds of injured shoppers and staff streamed out of the Westgate Mall. "I knew immediately that this had to be something more serious than just a robbery," Hicks says. Plainclothes police officers search the mall for gunmen. Hicks was inside the mall for about two hours. Family, friends and colleagues attend the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi. Macharia, who worked at the Westgate Mall's Art Cafe, was killed in the attack. Tyler Hicks is a New York Times staff photographer based in Kenya. He has just won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

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The Vatican on Thursday sought to tamp down speculation that Pope Francis wants to reverse church teachings and allow divorced and remarried Catholics and their spouses to take communion.

Religion News Service walks through what happened after word surfaced earlier this week that the pope reportedly called a woman in Argentina and told her it is OK for at least some divorced Catholics or their spouses to receive that sacrament.

The woman, Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona, had written to the pope about her anguish because she felt she couldn't receive communion since her husband's previous marriage had ended in divorce and they had not been married in a church. According to The Washington Post, "the last time she tried to take the Eucharist was last year, but the local priest ... denied her communion."

Her husband, Julio Sabetta, tells CNN that his wife "spoke with the pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong."

After that news hit the Web, the Vatican weighed in. NPR's Sylvia Poggiolli notes that Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a brief statement that nothing about church teachings should be inferred from any personal calls made by the pope.

In that statement, Lombardi does not dispute the accounts of what the pope reportedly said. But he does say that the pope might have been misinterpreted, according to the Vatican's English translation of Lombardi's statement:

"That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion."

"Therefore," Lombardi continues, "consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences."

Pope Francis is known to pick up the phone. Agence France-Presses notes that:

"The pope has previously been reported making calls from the practical to the intense, including calling his newsagent in Buenos Aires to cancel a subscription and comforting a mother grieving over her murdered daughter.

"The Vatican rarely makes official comment on reports of the calls, which often rely solely on the person in question saying that they have been called by the pope — who has been dubbed 'the cold call pope' by the tabloids."

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Discovering Lost Sounds

Apr 24, 2014 (Here & Now / WBUR-FM)

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Family, friends and colleagues attend the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi. Macharia, who worked at the Westgate Mall's Art Cafe, was killed in the attack. Tyler Hicks is a New York Times staff photographer based in Kenya. He has just won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

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Do you know what a guillotine sounds like? How about a Tiegel semi-automatic stop-cylinder printing press?

These are some of the sounds from past generations that have been lost (sometimes for the better). But the Museum of Work in Norrköping, Sweden, is preserving those sounds.

Here & Now’s Robin Young listens to some of these lost sounds with Torsten Nilsson, curator of the Museum of Work.

Guest

  • Torsten Nilsson, curator of the Museum of Work in Norrköping, Sweden.
Copyright 2014 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

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There today, here tomorrow: A mother holds her child for a measles vaccination in Manila, Philippines, in January. Travelers are bringing measles from the Philippines to the United States. (AFP/Getty Images)

A Measles Outbreak In The Philippines Travels To The U.S.

by Nancy Shute
Apr 24, 2014 (WBUR-FM)

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Family, friends and colleagues attend the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi. Macharia, who worked at the Westgate Mall's Art Cafe, was killed in the attack. Tyler Hicks is a New York Times staff photographer based in Kenya. He has just won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

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Measles cases in the United States have spiked in the past four months, driven mostly by people traveling from the Philippines, which is in the midst of an explosive outbreak of the highly contagious virus. By April 18, 129 cases have been reported, the most in that time period since 1996.

The situation is unusual enough that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday warned people to get their measles shots up to date, especially if they're planning international travel.

"We're impacted by what happens globally," Dr. Anne Schuchat, an assistant surgeon general and director of the national center for immunization at CDC, told reporters.

But we're also impacted by the fact that more people are choosing not to have their children vaccinated against measles and other infectious diseases, Schuchat said. "Today's measles outbreaks are too often the result of people opting out." Eighty-four percent of the people who have gotten measles so far this year were either not vaccinated or didn't know if they had been vaccinated, according to CDC data.

California has reported the most measles cases, with 58. It's also a state that allows parents to refuse vaccinations for children due to philosophical beliefs. Other outbreaks have been reported in New York and in Washington state.

Many doctors practicing today have never seen measles, which means that the disease can be spread when a sick person shows up in an emergency room or doctor's office. That happened in 11 of these new cases, according to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

So people who haven't been vaccinated should be sure to tell ambulance drivers and other health-care workers to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, which can linger in the air for hours.

Earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Health warned people who had attended a Kings of Leon concert that they had been exposed to measles by a woman who hadn't yet exhibited symptoms, which include a fever, cough and rash.

"You can be infectious four days before the visible onset of symptoms, and four days after," Schuchat said.

People considering international travel should make sure they're up to date on vaccinations, the CDC says, and infants 6 to 11 months should have at least one dose of the MMR shot that protects against measles before being taken overseas.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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