Teenager Muhammad Syukur Khamis from a small town in Kuala Terengganu is turning out to be quite an Internet sensation in early 2019. He is known as the Kampung Boy and some have even fondly named him “Mowgli Malaysia”.
Syukur’s bond with animals has captured the imagination of many photographers – both local and foreign.
The buzz on Syukur has definitely grown since Terengganu-born Kuala Lumpur-based photographer Mohd Nazri Sulaiman’s Sharing Emotion work clinched the grand prize (Street/People category) at the Asian Geographic: Images of Asia (IOA) 2018 awards last November.
Asian Geographic is a Singapore-based magazine that focuses mainly on stories about Asia.
Nazri’s winning photograph shows the 14-year-old Syukur comfortable in the company of a herd of buffaloes from his dad’s livestock farm. However, Nazri isn’t the only photographer who has featured Syukur in his works.
Among the many who have photographed Syukur with his animals is Terengganu-based photographer Dallah Deen (Abdullah Deen Mohd Zain), who has developed a body of work revolving around “Syukur Khamis – Kampung Boy” since late 2014.
In a recent interview with mStar, Dallah Deen cleared the air about the public confusing his works with Nazri’s award-winning photograph Sharing Emotion.
Dallah Deen reveals that he has been inundated with enquiries on his work featuring Syukur. There has also been interest in a photography exhibition.
Is the Syukur Khamis – Kampung Boy sensation set for a photography exhibition in Kuala Lumpur? Dallah Deen is open to the idea.
“I would like to congratulate Nazri Sulaiman on his achievement that has gone viral. However, there has been some confusion stemming from the inclusion of my works with the sharing of Nazri’s success story. Maybe the person sharing these photographs just wanted to show other photos of Syukur alongside Nazri’s winning shot. In any case, congratulations to both adik Syukur and abang Nazri,” Dallah Deen wrote on Facebook.
In fact, there is a gallery dedicated to “Syukur Khamis – Kampung Boy” on Facebook with contributions from several photographers. Dallah Deen, alongside two other friends, are among the photographers who have documented Syukur through the years.
Dallah Deen told mStar that he was surprised to receive many enquiries on the photographs since the images shot to fame online.
“Some people want to add to their collection, others want to display them in their shops. I have received so many friend requests on Facebook and Instagram,” he says.
“Syukur is a good and kind-hearted boy. What you see in the photographs is what you get,” adds Dallah Deen, who works for National Department for Culture and Arts (Jabatan Kebudayaan Dan Kesenian Negara) in Terengganu.
“I have loved animals ever since I was a child. My dad rears buffaloes, goats, cows and geese. I have been following him to the buffalo pen since I was six, and the buffaloes have become my friends,” says Syukur, who is the youngest of eight children.
He has had photographs taken of him and the farm animals since he was 10. He told mStar that these photos capture everyday life and interactions with his beloved animal friends.
“I really hope to work in a zoo one day. Given the opportunity, I would love to open my own zoo,” he says.
Recently, the Form Two student of Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Midin in Kuala Terengganu won the Most Outstanding Student award for the Kuala Terengganu District.