Ten amateur images that marked 2019

Three amateur images that marked 2019. (Photomontage by the France 24 Observers)
Three amateur images that marked 2019. (Photomontage by the France 24 Observers)

Over the past year, our team examined hundreds and hundreds of photos and videos taken by citizen journalists from across the world. These images captured everything from the tragic to the historic, to the curious and strange. To mark the year's end, we made a list of our top ten amateur images from 2019.


1 - The Tanzanian mom who impressed Trump and the rest of the world with her football juggling skills

This video, which was posted on Twitter on February 16, shows a woman from Tanzania performing an impressive series of tricks with a football in the streets of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. United States President Donald Trump shared the video on his account, calling it "incredible". In an interview, the talented footballer said that she performed tricks to make money to care for her children.


2 - Chinese workers take a nap on top of a transmission tower, more than 50 metres up in the air

An impressive video posted on social media back in April shows Chinese electricians taking a quick nap on a transmission tower… more than 50 metres up in the air. According to the South China Morning Post, one of the workers, Xiao Jiang, filmed the video on April 5 while his team was taking a break from installing a high-voltage line in Chenzhou, in the Hunan province in southern China.

>> Read on The Observers: Chinese workers take naps on top of 50-metre electrical tower

3 - Park ranger’s selfie with two gorillas in the DR Congo goes viral

When Congolese park ranger Mathieu Shamavu took a selfie with two of the gorillas that he looks after, the pair seemed to strike a pose, standing casually, hands behind their backs. The photo, which was posted on April 20, helped raise awareness about Virunga National Park, located in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. These two gorillas, who were both separated from their parents when they were just a few months old, grew up in an orphanage and were cared for by park rangers like Shamavu, who they love to imitate.

>> Read on The Observers: DR Congo park ranger's selfie with gorillas goes viral

4 - Two tourists busking in the metro in Singapore were accused of being "begpackers"

A video showing two tourists busking in the metro in Singapore garnered a lot of criticism after it was posted on May 28. Quite a few people accused the duo of being "begpackers", a term referring to tourists who beg to finance their trips around the world. They were also accused of exploiting the local culture of generosity and giving.

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5 - Venetians say no to big ships after a cruise ship crashes into a dock

When a cruise liner carrying 2,700 passengers crashed into a dock in Venice, Italy on June 2, there were lots of people on hand to take pictures and videos of the impact -- and these images rapidly spread across social media. Luckily, no one was injured. Many Venetians are opposed to the presence of large vessels in the lagoon, and for them this incident was proof of the damage these ships could cause.

>> Read on The Observers: Venetians ramp up campaign to say ‘no' to big ships

6 - California rapper saves the life of a young black man by filming his arrest

A video of six police officers drawing guns on a kneeling, unarmed black man in Hawthorne, California, went viral in June. Sky Holsey, a rapper, saw William Ewell with his arms behind his hand as officers swarmed around him and began filming the scene and livestreaming it to Instagram. Many online users said her intervention may have prevented the scene from turning deadly. The video is no longer visible on Holsey’s Instagram account but it was reposted on other social media accounts.

>> Read on The Observers: The story behind the viral video of police drawing guns on a black man in California

7 - Uighurs share voiceless protest videos to highlight the plight of their detained family members

In dozens of haunting videos shared online starting in August 2019, members of China’s Uighur Muslim minority pose silently with photos of missing family members, who are likely being detained by the Chinese government in reeducation camps.

Each of these videos show someone looking directly at the camera, with a photo of their missing family member in the background. Most of the videos last about 15 seconds and, during this time, the person filming doesn’t speak, though some of them do cry. The videos all play the same haunting song. First posted on the local version of the Chinese video sharing app TikTok, these videos have now been shared thousands of times on both Twitter and Facebook.

>> Read on The Observers: Uighurs’ voiceless protest videos highlight plight of detained family members

8 - When Hong Kong police fired live ammunition at a protester

While residents of Hong Kong protested against the official celebrations of China’s 70th anniversary, amateur videos and photos appeared online showing a police officer shooting a protester at close range. Two ballistics experts who examined the images told The France 24 Observers that they show that the officer used a live round. It was the first time Hong Kong police are known to have used live ammunition against protesters.

Screengrab showing the moment when a police officer shot a protester at point-blank range. (Image: Campus TV)

>> Read on The Observers: Video: Hong Kong police shoot demonstrator with live bullet

9 - The viral video of a whale playing fetch that isn't as cute as it seems

A viral video showing a white beluga whale playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by a group of men on a boat was originally posted on Facebook on November 6 before being shared on other social media like Twitter. The image garnered more than 2.4 million views in less than a week. However, several marine life specialists who examined the footage say that this isn’t just a harmless game-- they suspect the whale was trained by the Russian Army.

>> Read on The Observers: Viral video of a whale playing fetch isn't as cute as it seems

10 - Undocumented migrant hero rescues a man with a disability from a fire in Spain

On December 6, Gorgui Lamine Sow, an undocumented man from Senegal rescued a man with disabilities who was trapped as a fire raged through his apartment in the small coastal town of Denia near Alicante. After the remarkable rescue, the hero just vanished until neighbours tracked him down a few days later with the help of a few photos taken at the scene.

>> Read on The Observers: ‘I didn’t stop to think, I just climbed’, migrant hero says after rescuing man with disability from fire

Every day, the France 24 Observers team receives dozens of photos, videos and eyewitness accounts from people all over the world. After our journalists work to verify the content, we write articles based on these stories and produce a weekly TV show.

If you have images or stories you’d like to share, drop us a quick email (observateurs@france24.com) or shoot us a message on Facebook or WhatsApp (+33 6 30 93 41 36).