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Dan Eldon

Dan Eldon

Daniel Robert Eldon (18 September 1970, Hampstead, England12 July 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia) was an English photojournalist. He and three colleagues were killed by an angry mob in Mogadishu. He left behind a series of journals, which his family has exhibited on a worldwide tour.

Biography

Early life

Dan Eldon was born in London on 18 September 1970. When he was seven years old, Eldon and his three-year-old sister Amy moved to Nairobi, Kenya with their parents, Kathy and Mike Eldon.

In Kenya, Eldon attended a British school, but soon convinced his parents to transfer him to the International School of Kenya.

In 1982, there was an attempted coup in Kenya, and Eldon experienced its aftermath. He accompanied his mother, Kathy Eldon, on her journalism assignments, and soon was taking pictures, used in local newspapers.

At fourteen, he started a fund-raising 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. But, due to the hospital's neglect, Atieno died.

Around fifteen, Eldon started to create journals filled with collages, photographs and drawings. He often used satire and cartoons as commentary. He kept the journals as very personal statements, which he shared with only a few people.

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

Travel

Throughout his life Eldon traveled 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 college. He called it a “year on”; for him, it felt more challenging than college. He left Kenya for job at Mademoiselle Magazine in New York.

In January Eldon enrolled in Pasadena Community College, California. That summer, he and a friend drove a Land Rover across five African countries.

With the information he had obtained on his trip Eldon transferred to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). He set up a charity, Student Transport Aid. This attracted the interest of local TV newspaper groups. With the help of fifteen friends, he raised $25,000 for a venture to a refugee camp in Malawi. The friends, representing six countries, met in Nairobi and traveled 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.

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, meanwhile, and 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 semester, all the time planning his next trip, which was to be across the Sahara. Early in 1992, he moved to Mt. Vernon, Iowa, to attend classes at Cornell College.

Film career

In April of that year, Eldon flew to Kenya, where he worked as 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.

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 U.S. 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. Meanwhile, Pakistani peace keepers died, making the conflict an international incident, the violence and horror of which was very hard on Eldon.

Death

Despite having “had enough” by June, Eldon stayed to cover events. On 12 July 1993, he, Hos Maina, Anthony Macharia, and Hansi Krauss covered the bombing of General Aideed’s headquarters, where it was mistakenly believed that Mohammed Farah Aidid's Habar Gedir clan were meeting--this location was a result of faulty intelligence. United States and United Nations forces erroneously killed over fifty people, inciting an angry mob. In the confusion after the attack, the mob beat and stoned all four young men to death.

Film adaptation

It was announced in the New York Times on 28 December 2007 that Eldon will be the focus of a biopic entitled Journey. The role of Eldon will be played by Daniel Radcliffe, best known as the actor who portrays Harry Potter. Eldon's mother, Kathy, personally chose Radcliffe, noting Radcliffe's "puckishness, sense of humour and energy" as similar to her son's.Bronwen Hughes will direct the screenplay written by Jan Sardi. Filming will be in Kenya.

External links

References

Books

  • Eldon, Dan The Journey is the Destination. ISBN 0-8118-1586-2.
  • New, Jennifer Dan Eldon: The Art of Life. ISBN 0-8118-2955-3.

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