Africa in the year 1960 was a puzzle, a secret. Within twelve months France, England and Belgium released 17 colonies south of the Sahara into their independence. Every month a republic was born somewhere, and more often than not these birth hours were dramatic and painful. Nobody knew how the newcomers would develop. For a young journalist like me this suddenly so self-conscious continent offered an ideal field for reports. From March to June 1960 I passed through Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Rhodesia, Nyassaland (the later Malawi), Belgian-Congo, and South-Africa. On 30 June my journey ended in Leopoldville, today called Kinshasa, where the Belgian King was granting independence, when a young black man rushed up to the car, grabbed the kingly sword as fast as lightning and ran away – directly towards my camera! This is how a snapshot full of symbolic force was taken. The rapier thief is until today my most frequency printed picture and my identity picture, almost like a trademark.