This weekend, the Nigerian Media was honoured at the 2012 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards with the Free Press Africa Award 2012. The award was given, just as Nigerian journalists were praised for working under very hostile conditions.
The event which held at the Government Complex Convention Centre, in Lusaka, Zambia, saw another Nigerian – Ahaoma Kanu of the National Daily newspaper – win in the Tourism Award category with his story entitled “Badagry: A Walk Through The Slave Route” which can be read here
. Five other Nigerian journalists made it as finalists.
The organizers, while presenting the award, acknowledged the challenges of practicing journalism in the country and gave special recognition to two Nigerian journalists who lost their lives in the course of duty. One of the journalists – Zakariyu Isa, was a cameraman with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Maiduguri. On October 2011 he was shot dead in front of his home in Maiduguri. The other journalist was a news reporter at Channels Television, Lagos. Eneche Akogwu was also shot dead, in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency, during live coverage of the multiple Kano bomb blasts in January 2012.
The award was received by the President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, Gbenga Adefaye. He stated that no amount of threats and intimidation could determine the content of media covered by the Nigerian Press.
“Our story has always been that when the press is threatened, it comes out stronger. Our press which survived the most brutal of military dictatorships and wears the battle scar as a badge of honour, now complemented by a fast growing social media will surely survive this current assault on free press and write the story thereafter,” he said.
He thanked CNN and Multichoice for empathizing and sharing the pains of Nigerian journalists. He thanked them especially for the “symbolic support for those left behind by Eneche and Zakariya.”
His affirmation on the duty and responsibility of the Nigerian press was a strong and emotional one. Making a promise on behalf of his peers, Adefaye declared that the Nigerian media would come out more courageous, daring and professional. “The Nigerian press will continue to report the truth and speak truth to power,” he said. “It is the minimum that we can do to the memory of the courageous two who have fallen, in active service.”
The top prize of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Award went to the duo of Tom Mboya and Evanson Nyaga of Kenya’s Citizen Television. Their winning entry, selected from a pool of 1,799 submissions, was a documentary entitled “The African Tribe in India”. The duo, Mboya and Nyaga, also won the Television Features Award.
The CNN African Journalist of the Year competition was established in August 1995 to encourage, promote and recognise excellence in African journalism and to help African journalists gain recognition for their hard work and commitment. The Free Press Africa Award was introduced later in 1999 to celebrate courage and integrity in journalism and in enhancing the cause of media freedom.
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This article was first published on 23rd July 2012 and updated on July 24th, 2012 at 9:24 pm