Dan Eldon

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Dan Eldon
Daniel Robert Eldon

(1970-09-18)18 September 1970
Hampstead, London, England, UK
Died12 July 1993(1993-07-12) (aged 22)
Mogadishu, Somalia
OccupationJournalist, artist, activist

Daniel Robert "Dan" Eldon (18 September 1970 – 12 July 1993) was a British-Kenyan photojournalist, artist and activist, killed in Somalia while working as a Reuters photojournalist. He left behind a series of journals, which Chronicle Books have used to publish four books; among them: The Journey is the Destination, The Art of Life, and Safari as a Way of Life.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Kenya republic in East Africa

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. At 580,367 square kilometres (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's 48th largest country by total area. With a population of more than 52.2 million people, Kenya is the 27th most populous country. Kenya's capital and largest city is Nairobi while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu City is the third largest city and also an inland port on Lake Victoria. Other important urban centres include Nakuru and Eldoret.

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that employs images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work be both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media, and help communities connect with one other. Photojournalists must be well informed and knowledgeable about events happening right outside their door. They deliver news in a creative format that is not only informative, but also entertaining.


Early life

Eldon was born in London, on 18 September 1970, the son of Kathy and Mike Eldon. Mike was an Israel-born British citizen of Jewish descent, and his American mother was Protestant of German and Irish immigrant descent. [1] [2] When Dan was seven years old, Eldon and his three-year-old sister Amy moved to Nairobi, Kenya with their parents. The couple later divorced; Mike Eldon is now married to a Kenyan woman, Evelyn Mungai (Transparency International, Kenya), and Kathy is now married to American designer, Michael Bedner.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom, as well as the largest city within the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Israel country in the Middle East

Israel, also known as the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

In Kenya, Dan Eldon attended a British school, but soon convinced his parents to transfer him to the International School of Kenya, which included children representing over 40 nationalities. In 1982, an attempted coup in Kenya put the family in the midst of political upheaval. Eldon, aged 12, arrived back in Kenya from a summer holiday several days after the coup and experienced some of its aftermath. In his teens, Eldon joined his mother, Kathy, a freelance journalist for the English-language newspaper, the Nation, in Kenya. Soon, Eldon was taking pictures, which were featured in local newspapers and magazines.

International School of Kenya

The International School of Kenya (ISK) is an international school for pre-kindergarten to grade 12 located on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. It was established in 1976 and has a 25 hectare campus. The grounds used to be a large coffee plantation, and today, only a few of the original buildings remain. Students can study for a North American high school diploma or the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The institution is accredited by the MSA, and is the largest international school in Nairobi. ISK is a member of the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), The Council of International Schools and Round Square

The 1982 Kenyan coup d'état attempt was a failed attempt to overthrow President Daniel arap Moi's government. At 3 A.M. on Aug. Sunday, 1 August 1982, a group of soldiers from the Kenya Air Force took over Eastleigh Air Base just outside Nairobi, and by 4 A.M. the nearby Embakasi air base had also fallen. At 6 A.M. Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and Sergeant Pancras Oteyo Okumu captured the Voice of Kenya radio station in central Nairobi where they broadcast in English and Swahili that the military had overthrown the government. Working at the behest of Ochuka, Corporal Bramwel Injeni Njereman was leading a plot to bomb the State House and the General Service Unit headquarters from the Laikipia Air Base, Nanyuki. Corporal Njereman commandeered three pilots, namely Major David Mutua, Captain John Mugwanja and Captain John Baraza to fly two F-5E Tiger jets and a Strikemaster that would be used for the mission. However, Major Mutua was aware that Corporal Njereman had never flown a jet fighter before and would likely not be able to cope with the g-forces. The pilots, while communicating on a secret channel, agreed to execute daring manoeuvres to disorient their captor. The trick worked. The pilots dumped the bombs in Mt. Kenya forest and headed back to Nanyuki.

At 14, Eldon started a fundraising campaign for open-heart surgery to save the life of Atieno, a young Kenyan girl. Together with his sister and friends, he raised $5,000 for a successful heart operation. At the age of 15, Eldon helped support a Maasai family by buying handmade beaded jewelry made by the mother, Kipenget, and selling it to fellow students and friends. It was during this time that Dan began creating journals filled with collages, photographs, and drawings. He often used satire and cartoons as commentary. He kept the journals as personal statements, which he shared with only a few people.

Maasai people ethnic group inhabiting Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known local populations internationally due to their residence near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress. The Maasai speak the Maa language, a member of the Nilo-Saharan family that is related to the Dinka, Kalenjin and Nuer languages. Some have become educated in the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili and English. The Maasai population has been reported as numbering 841,622 in Kenya in the 2009 census, compared to 377,089 in the 1989 census.

In 1988, Dan graduated from the International School of Kenya, winning the International Relations and Community Service awards. Voted most outstanding student, he addressed his class, emphasising the importance of crossing cultural barriers and caring for others. [3]


Throughout his life, Eldon travelled extensively, visiting 46 countries. In addition, he studied seven languages in and out of school.

In the autumn of 1988, Eldon began his “year off” before university. He called it a “year on”; for him, it felt more challenging than college. He left Kenya for a job at Mademoiselle magazine in New York.

<i>Mademoiselle</i> (magazine) womens fashion magazine

Mademoiselle was a women's magazine first published in 1935 by Street and Smith and later acquired by Condé Nast Publications.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

In January, Eldon enrolled in Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. That summer, he and a friend researched a journey that would lead Eldon and a group of young people from Nairobi to Malawi, driving a Land Rover across five countries. [4] They found that staying in local jails was the safest solution to security problems, and often spent the night locked up in cells to the amusement of the prison guards.

With the information he had obtained on his trip, Eldon, who had transferred to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), set up a charity named Student Transport Aid. This attracted the interest of local television stations and newspapers. With the help of 15 friends, he raised $25,000 for a venture to a refugee camp in Malawi. The friends, representing six countries, met in Nairobi and travelled thousands of miles in three vehicles. There, they donated one of their vehicles to the Save the Children Fund, as well as money for three wells and blankets for a children's hospital. Team members included Christopher Nolan (director of the Batman Dark Knight Trilogy), Roko Belic (Oscar-nominated director of Genghis Blues ), Elinor Tatum (publisher of the New York Amsterdam News), Amy Eldon Turteltaub (producer and author), and Jeffrey Gettleman (Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times bureau chief for East Africa).

Eldon returned to UCLA in the autumn of 1990 and began to plan another venture, which necessitated a move to London in January. He attended Richmond College and in the meantime, purchased another Land Rover for a trip to Morocco that summer. He aimed to buy bracelets and belts to sell in America for Student Transport Aid. He was attacked by Moroccan thieves and delayed by Land Rover malfunctions. He spent a fitful summer in Marrakesh, before arriving home in time to ship $5,000 worth of goods to America, which he sold on the beaches of Southern California.

In 1991, he returned to UCLA for one academic year, all the time planning his next trip, which was to be across the Sahara. Early in 1992, he moved to Mount Vernon, Iowa, to attend classes at Cornell College.

Film career

In April of that year, Eldon flew to Kenya, where he was a third assistant director on a feature film, Lost in Africa . As the most junior person on the production crew, he was often awake at 5:00 a.m., and was usually the last in bed. [5]

During the summer of 1992, the famine in Somalia raged. Eldon flew to the Kenyan refugee camps. The international news agency, Reuters, spotted his work, and he was soon working for the company, shooting the increasingly desperate situation. He followed the story closely and was present at the US Marine landing, where a barrage of international photographers and journalists were waiting for the American soldiers as they left their landing craft in Mogadishu.

Eldon stayed in Mogadishu through the spring. During this time, Eldon's pictures were featured in newspapers and magazines around the world. On 12 June 1993, his photo made a double-page spread in Newsweek magazine, as well as the covers of newspapers everywhere.[ specify ] Meanwhile, Pakistani peacekeepers died, making the conflict an international incident, the violence and horror of which was very hard on Eldon. He was nicknamed Warsame, Mayor of Mogadishu by Mogadishans for his friendliness.


Despite having "had enough" by June, Eldon stayed to cover events. On 12 July 1993, he, Associated Press photographer Hansi Krauss, Reuters soundman Anthony Macharia, and Reuters videographer Hos Maina covered the United Nations raid to arrest rebel leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid at a house he was believed to have been occupying. [6] Survivors of the raid went to the journalists' hotel requesting them to take pictures. In a convoy, under the protection of Somalis, Eldon and a group of colleagues went to the bombed area. As they began to take photographs, a mob attacked the journalists. Eldon and his colleagues Krauss, Macharia and Maina were stoned and beaten to death.

Film adaptation

It was announced in The New York Times on 28 December 2007, that Eldon would be the focus of a biographical film entitled The Journey Is the Destination, the title of which is based on a page from Dan's journals featured in the book of the same name published by Chronicle Books. The film was directed by Bronwen Hughes and produced by Martin Katz, Kathy Eldon, Richard Arlook and Kweku Mandela (a grandson of Nelson Mandela) and was shot in South Africa from July to September 2014. The film premiered in 2016 [7] at the Toronto Film Festival and was released on Netflix in October, 2017.

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  1. "Young photographer exposed Somalia's horrors". CNN.
  2. "Dan & Amy Eldon". The MY HERO Project. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  3. New, Jennifer: "Dan Eldon: The Art of Life", page 74. Creative Visions, 2001.
  4. New, Jennifer. "Dan Eldon: The Art of Life", page 147. Creative Visions, 2001.
  5. New, Jennifer. "Dan Eldon: The Art of Life", page 198. Creative Visions, 2001.
  6. Smith, David (30 December 2007). "Wizard to play the magician of Somalia". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  7. ""The Journey is the Destination (2016)", Internet Movie Database".