P A N G A E A
Kakuma-Turkana

This book has touched the hearts of many with divergent backgrounds from around the world and across social, political, religious and economic backgrounds. It is a tribute to those portrayed here, both the refugees at Kakuma Camp and the indigenous peoples of Turkana.

FROM THE DUST JACKET

Daniel’s photographs bring awareness to an enormous suffering, sustained in dignity by these amazing people. I pray his passion influences a new generation to demand social and political change.

OLIVER STONE is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker who has garnered critical acclaim for his wide-ranging films of social commentary. He first met Dan in August 2000 at Kakuma Refugee Camp.


From a personal level, I am drawn to Danny’s work as our family lived in Kenya while I was a young girl and its people hold a special place in my heart. Danny’s photographs stand alone, however, and tell an important story. His powerful images bridge us as humans. The depth of the pictures pushes us beyond the expected differences and transports us to the unexpected—-to our very humanness.

ANN BANCROFT is a polar explorer, Bancroft-Arneson Expedition - Antarctica, American Women’s Expedition to Antarctica and Steger International Expedition to the North Pole—the first woman in history to cross the ice to the North and South Poles. The Ann Bancroft Foundation works to help girls and women realize their highest dreams and potential.


The people in Kakuma, like all refugees, seek not pity but demand social justice. And without social justice for all in the world, none of us can—or should—live at peace with ourselves. Victims of politics, corruption and cruelty, refugees are nothing more—and nothing less—than everyday people caught in the middle of a struggle not of their own making. And those who suffer most are always the children.

BRUCE HARRIS is executive director, Covenant House Latin America/Casa Alianza, which provides shelter and services for homeless street children in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. He has narrated film and television documentaries on children internationally and received numerous awards for his human rights and humanitarian work. British-born Harris and Casa Alianza are recipients of Sweden’s Olof Palme Prize for courageous defense of the rights of children.


Daniel Cheng Yang, although young in age, moves with maturity, able to go to war-torn parts of Africa and document the anguish and despair of its people. It makes me proud that a young person is willing to let go of the comforts and sometimes complacency of countries like ours to seek truth. Indigenous regions, like America’s Native Indian reservations, are fearfully avoided and forgotten. Accepted, instead, is a pacifying picture created from myths that serve political conquest rather than people. With the help of his camera, Daniel asks that we challenge each other and ourselves to deeper awareness, understanding and compassion.

LEONARD PELTIER is a Native American, citizen of the Anishinabe and Lakota Nations, father, grandfather, artist, writer and indigenous rights activist. He has been a political prisoner in the US for the past twenty six years, having been denied a fair trial according to Amnesty International, the European Parliament and rights organizations and citizens from around the world.


This war in Sudan has lost many lives, and many people in the world do not understand what is going on because there are no reporters writing about it. A lot of people are dying and no one is telling about it because the government of Sudan will not allow it. There are no radios or televisions or roads in South Sudan. Because of this book, people will know there is something going on over there. If there had been news stories, the world would know about the loss of human rights&emdash;but no one has seen any pictures of how people have died. Human skeletons are everywhere. This war is not a war of words.

DOMACH GATKUOTH DENG is one of the more than 7000 original Sudanese Lost Boys at Kakuma who walked over 1000 miles to find safety at Kakuma Refugee Camp. His entire village was destroyed by a Sudanese Army convoy in 1988 when he was fifteen years old. Orphaned by the war, he has spent nearly half his life in the refugee camps of Ethiopia and Kenya. He now lives in the United States.

IN THE MEDIA

MINNESOTA DAILY - University of Minnesota (11 March 2003): "First-year student fights for peace in Sudan and Rwanda," by Susie Vang.

Excerpt: While most 10-year-olds spend time watching artoons, Daniel Cheng Yang learned about the civil war in Rwanda. Eight years later, he is a first-year University student, has authored a book and is an international figure for peace.


MINNESOTA MONTHLY magazine (January 2003): "Through the Lens, Darkly: Photographer Daniel Cheng Yang is young in years but wise in outlook," by Michelle Baltus, photograph by Eric Moore.

When Daniel Cheng Yang was 10, the African country of Rwanda was devastated by genocide. Television footage of the atrocities didn't just shock the Inver Grove Heights native, who is the son of a Hmong refugee and a former internationa relief worker; it compelled him to action. The result is a book titles Kakuma-Turkana, Dueling Struggles: Africa's Forgotten Peoples (Pangaea $32.95). It is the 18-year-old University of Minnesota freshman's photographic account of refugee life in East Africa. Weathered faces, starving children, and other human casualties of war are candidly documented in a beautiful volume that could be required reading for anyone who feels toay's youth lack a generosity of spirit shown by earlier generations.

"He has the openness and sincerity of a young person without any political agenda," says his publisher, Bonnie Hayskar of St. Paul-based Pangaea Books. "He's not doing things to get a vote or to get money. There's no hidden agenda." The amateur photographer's actions brought the plight of the world's refugees out of Africa and into focus. "I thought that if I could take images that stick in people's heads, I could create change," says Yang, who in 1999 got permission from the United nations high commissioner for refugees to visit the Kakuma Refugee Camp near the border of Sudan and Kenya. At the camp, Yang photographed some of the thousands of Sudanese refugees who live there, as well as the desperate existence of the land's indigenous people, the Turkana. The resulting pictorial spoke to the heart of another refugee, the Dalai Lama, who wrote the introduction to Yang's book. While explorer Ann Bancroft and filmmaker Oliver Stone are among those who've praised Yang's empathy and his accomplishment, the humble student acknowledges he has more to learn. "I know my passion alone isn't enough to fight injustice," he says. "I need to match it with a knowledge and understanding of why people are in these situations."


MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW (8 October 2002): "Emotional and unforgettable black-and-white photographs"

Featuring a Foreword by the Dalai Lama, Kakuma-Turkana, Dueling Struggles: Africa's Forgotten Peoples by Daniel Cheng Yang offers the nonspecialist general reader a profound interesting photographic journal of the struggles of the indigenous peoples of northwest Kenya. The emotional and unforgettable black-and-white photographs capture the harsh reality of life in lands with highly limited resources in an unforgettable compendium of images and commentary. Kakuma - Turkana is highly recommended photo-documentary for African Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.


PIONEER PRESS (Saint Paul, 8 September 2002): "Their vision is ageless," by Mary Ann Grossmann, Book Critic

A Child's Memories: Daniel Cheng Yang was only 15 when he first visited the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, near the borders of Sudan and Ethiopia. Years of civil war have forced thousands of people into the camp, which threatens the traditional ways of life of the pastoral Turkana.

Yang, now an 18-year-old University of Minnesota freshman, says in the introduction to his picture book, Kakuma-Turkana, that he has been surrounded by "stories of fleeing" since he was a child.

His grandfather's family was forced from their village in the mountains of Laos during the Vietnam War, and Yang himself recalls watching horrific images of the war in Rwanda on television when he was "a young naive boy."

"The genocide of Rwanda was a turning point in my life," he writes. ". . . what I learned in the weeks, months and years to come after the genocide of 1994 has pushed me to strive to create awareness of and aid for the millions of refugees (who are) the world's most vulnerable people."

When Yang arrived at the Kakuma camp for the first time in 1999, he was a "stocky Asian kid" wandering among black people. But, he writes, the camp beame his first love: "She was a sea of suffering humanity, mud shelters and plastic sheeting, hungry stomachs and heavy hearts. Her name is Kakuma and not a day or night passes without me thinking of her."

Yang returned to the camp several times, and it became his second home. He will talk about his experiences there, and the plight of some 40 million refugees worldwide, Tuesday at Ruminator Books.


DOUBLETAKE magazine (Summer 2002): "Documentary Notes: A selective guide to recent books and other documentary work."

Refugees from Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Somalia who settled partly in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya are featured in Kakuma-Turkana (Pangaea, September 2002) by photographer Daniel Cheng Yang. The recent refugees and the Turkana people on whose land the camp was placed are currently locked in a struggle for space on Turkana ancestral lands. Yang, an eighteen-year-old high-school student from Minnesota, was inspired by his parents' own stories of exile to document the struggles of the Turkana people, one of the world's oldest civilizations. With compassion and insight, Yang's photographs and writing tell a complex story about the balance between ancient tribes and those uprooted from their homelands by contemporary forms of conflict.


STAR TRIBUNE (Minneapolis, 4 July 2002): "Shedding light on the plight of refugees, indigenous people," by Lucy Y. Her.

Excerpt: As a boy, Daniel Cheng Yang would ask his father to tell him stories about life in Laos.

The 8-year-old would sit across from his father and listen to what it was like to live in the jungle, running and hiding from the Laotian government after the Vietnam War. Like many Hmong, Daniel's father had fought for U.S. forces against Communists in Laos during the war. William Yang eventually made his way to a refugee camp in Thailand.

"In the camp, you have no hope, you have no future," his father told him.

The stories stayed with Daniel, of St. Paul, and they shaped him into an 18-year-old who's so committed to shedding light on the plight of refugees and other struggling people that he traveled to Africa several times by himself, even taking some time off school, to document their conditions. Such is the focus of his book, Kakuma-Turkana, Dueling Struggles: Africa's Forgotten Peoples, which will be published in August.


MINNESOTA PARENT magazine (May 2002): "Images of Africa: Book by Student Photographer Focuses on Refugee Crisis," by Michelle Baltus.

Excerpt: Weathered faces, starving children and other human casualties of war are candidly documented in this beautifully haunting book, which is to be published next month by St. Paul-based PANGAEA books.


KMSP-TV (11 May 2001): "Student Photographer," by Angela Hampton.

Most teenagers have a lot to juggle: school, sports, part-time jobs, and their social lives. But the teen you're about to meet is focussing on social change. This young man is using his talents to help thousands of people half-a-world away. Angela Hampton has his story.

In film classes at St. Paul's Harding High School, students dissect images, studying the power of pictures. At only 17, Daniel Yang has developed a deeper comprehension of photography and its ability to generate universal understanding. Daniel has dragged his camera gear around the world.

Daniel Yang/PHOTOGRAPHER: "The first time I started taking pictures on my travels was just when I went with my father to Laos."

That trip to his father's homeland, along with the influence of his mom, a social worker, gave Daniel focus at a very young age. He wanted his pictures to help refugees, like his dad.

Daniel Yang/PHOTOGRAPHER: "His stories of when he was a child running through the forest being hunted by soldiers...that's really affected me."

It's also driven Daniel to make a difference somwhere else.

Daniel Yang/PHOTOGRAPHER: "These people are no different than you and me, I mean it's just that you were born here."

Those people were born in Africa in Sudan. But civil war has driven them from their homes to Kenya, and a refugee camp called Kakuma. For the past decade, there've been 50,000 to 80,000 refugees in the camp at any given time. Yet, much of the world has never heard of Kakuma. Daniel's travelled there three times so far, to hear the refugees' stories, and capture their struggles in photos.

Daniel Yang/PHOTOGRAPHER: "These people have nothing. All they can do is just wait there. They can't go out and work, they can't work the land, they're just stuck there."

Bonnie Hayskar/PANGAEA PUBLISHING: "It's that simple clarity of what he's shot that really comes through." Bonnie Hayskar is a Twin Cities publisher. She's helping Daniel put together a book, a photographic essay of people in the Kakuma camp.

Bonnie Hayskar/PANGAEA PUBLISHING: "His images are really stunning and the book is an important book to do on that level alone."

Quite an acheivement for a 17-year-old who's never had formal training in photography.

Daniel Yang/PHOTOGRAPHER: "What makes me able to I think express or get so-called good photographs or whatever in the camp or anywhere is emotional bonds you build with somebody. If you get their trust, it just comes out in the photograph."

Hayskar believes Daniel's compassion and vision have the power to touch and teach about the immigrant and refugee experience.

Bonnie Hayskar/PANGAEA PUBLISHING: "We're hoping the outcome of this book is they will see something familiar that isn't just an isolated camp in Africa."

Daniel Yang/PHOTOGRAPHER: "These people are no different than your brother or your neighbor or your mother. These people are people that are being murdered and raped and enslaved and the only fault of theirs is that they were born there and not here and people really need to look into that."

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