Nation Media Group on Thursday evening feted some of the continent’s courageous and dedicated journalists over the years.
The African journalism awards for lifetime achievement and inspiration were held at the NMG gala dinner held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
NMG honoured five journalists from Western, Eastern, Central, Northern and Southern Africa with life achievement and inspiration awards. Another five journalists from each of the regions got special mentions for their journalism.
Those who receive life achievement plaques are Trevor Ncube (Zimbabwean), Mohammed Amin (posthumously, Kenya), Ray Ekpu (Nigeria), Alexis Sundihije (Burundi), and Mohammed Hussein Haikal (Egypt).
The awards were part of NMG’s 50th anniversary celebrations where the company honoured courageous and dedicated professionals who have contributed to journalism.
Mr Trevor Ncube, a Zimbabwean journalist, was honoured for his fearless contribution in the southern African country in the last two decades. His fight for justice, fairness and democracy in Zimbabwe cost him his freedom and citizenship at one time.
Mr Ncube, who is also a part owner of the Mail and Guardian newspapers in South Africa welcomed the award during a gala dinner hosted by the NMG.
“I fight for the helpless in the society to ensure justice is restored,” Mr Ncube told the Nation on the sidelines of the Pan Africa Media Conference at Kenyatta International Conference centre on Friday.
Mr Ncube pointed out challenges he has faced in his 12-year career as a journalist and another eight as a proprietor.
“In 2005, I wrote a story about (President) Mugabe’s marriage which cost me not only my passport but my citizenship as well,” Mr Ncube told the Nation.
He went to South Africa on exile and later returned to his home country after he fought for the restoration of his citizenship in court.
Southern Africa special mention went to Percy Peter Tshidiso Qoboza, an influential black South African journalist, author, and outspoken critic of the apartheid.
In East Africa, Mohammed Amin - commonly known as Mo - was honoured post-humously for his epic photography that candidly told the African story.
“He not only gave up his arm but his life as well for the African Continent,” Mr Salim Amin said when receiving the award on behalf of his father.
Ben Bella Illakut from Uganda received special mention for the burning conviction for truth and fairness exemplified over the decades working as a trainer and an editor.
The West Africa’s life achiever was Ray Ekpu from Nigeria while the special mention went to Norbert Zongo from Burkina Faso who was was assassinated after his newspaper began investigating the murder of a driver who had worked for the brother of President Blaise Compaoré.
In Northern Africa, lifetime achiever award went to political writer and editor Mohammed Hussein Haikal from Egypt. Chad journalist N’Jamena received a special mention for his contribution in shaping the African story.
In Central Africa, the top award went to Alexis Sundihije from Burundi for his initiatives aimed at promoting a culture of reconciliation and openness. Mr Sundihije has also been feted as one of 100 most influential people in the world.
Radio journalist Serge Maheshe, who was shot dead in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on June 13, 2007, got the special mention.
In his career, Mr Maheshe was christened “Mr Quick Intervention” journalist because of his belief in the healing powers of journalism.
Kenya’s Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka presided at the gala and applauded the bravery and tremendous contributions of the journalists whose word was awarded.
“The history of Nation Media Group is a story of this country,” Mr Kalonzo said.
Mr Kalonzo applauded plans by the Aga Khan to set up a graduate school in Eastern Africa to train media manager s and mid-career journalists.
Mr Kalonzo mentioned he was a beneficiary of an NMG internship programme in his postgraduate years and welcomed the proposal to upgrade professionalism amongst journalists.
He congratulated NMG for their conservation efforts of water towers like in the Mau Forest.
NMG board chairman Wilfred Kiboro urged African journalists to foster positive attitudes when reporting
“We have a duty and responsibility to move our continent forward,” he said warning ‘Afro-pessimist’ journalists who told gloomy stories about the continent.