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CELEBRATING FIFTEEN YEARS OF EXCELLENCE…. THE CNN MULTICHOICE AFRICAN JOURNALIST AWARDS

By Brooke Nuwati
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Date: May 24, 2010
On Saturday, May 29th 2010, at the plush Serena hotel in the heart of Kampala, Uganda, the country that Winston Churchill once famously called the “Peal of Africa”, twenty-seven (27) of Africa's finest journalists will be honoured by two of the world's leading media houses, CNN and Multichoice.

Personally, it is a great delight to see what began as a simple idea and desire to help turn a situation around, develop into one of Africa's and probably the World's most recognized and prestigious Journalistic Awards. The recognition the Awards have gained over the years, gives credence to an adage my mother taught us as children, “that in whatever situation you find yourself, ask not what you can get, but what you can give...” I am indeed fulfilled that I was able to use my position at Turner Broadcasting System at the time to bring recognition to African journalism and Africa as whole.

The joy I have derived from being part of the Awards is the power it has gained over the years to effect change not only in the lives of the winners but also in their communities, the growing confidence it gives the journalists and the space it has managed to create for journalists to do their work across the continent. However, even, more than ever before, the Awards now remain even more poignant today. Significant because, we need more thoughtful, courageous and diligent journalists to make sure that the serious environmental, sanitation, deforestation, development and climatic issues affecting the continent are addressed; that the stories of the thousands of African children who go to bed holding their stomachs because they are hungry, abused women, poverty on the continent, inept and unproductive managers and systems and the plight of the disabled in our communities make the headlines. Important, because it also helps to celebrate our heroes and heroines, our cultures, our mavericks, entrepreneurs and the new generation of Africans working hard to change the image of the continent, a picture which for a long time griots of the developed world had ascribed as “useless, a scare upon the conscience of the world, poverty and disease ridden, etc. Slowly but surely, through the recognition that these Awards offer, some of our modern day griots are beginning to erase the tinted picture.

I am happy that the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards continue to remain a beacon of hope, inspiring and making the African journalist feel and believe that their role is important in the development agenda of the continent and the world at large.

The wining stories of some of our past Ghanaian finalists and winners like Joana Mantey, Tom Dorkenoo, Israel Laryea, Emmanuel Nkrumah, Kofi Akpabli, Loretta Vanderpouy and Anas Aremyaw Anas should be held up as the yardstick for contemporary Ghanaian journalists. Griots of old like Elizabeth Ohene, Cameroun Duodu, Kofi Frimpong, Kofi Badu and others should also be celebrated and their stories used in our schools and newsrooms as case studies. They blazed a trail and set high standards under very difficult conditions during their time.

My commitment to these Awards is borne out of the passion to contribute to helping change the perception of the African continent and her people through giving our story tellers a platform of hope and credibility. A platform that will give them hope and help create a generation of African journalists who would tell the African story to reflect our reality truthfully and factually and most importantly help rebuild and restore Africa's lost confidence and stature. It is my dream that through the recognition that these Awards provide, contemporaries of African journalists will be inspired to continue to play a leading part in our continent's forward march through conveying messages of optimism, redemption and assurance.

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