Burkinabe journalist Sama Tounwendsida Hugues Richard has emerged the overall winner at the just ended Media Foundation for West Africa’s West African Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA) in Accra on Saturday.
His report on the plight of mentally disabled people in Burkina Faso catapulted him to beat 20 other contenders to be crowned West African Journalist of the Year.
Other winners on the night were; Kúnlé Adébàjò, Nigeria (Telecommunication), Tobore Ovuorie, Nigeria (Human Rights), Nabil Rufai, Ghana (Sustainable Development Goals).
The rest are Tunde Ajaja, Nigeria (Business and Small and Medium Enterprise), Seriba Kone, Côte d’Ivoire (Anti-Corruption) and Cletus Ukpong of Nigeria (Investigations)
One other person, Destiny Onyemihia of Nigeria, received the African Union (AU) Charter Award.
The event on the theme: “Social Media, Fake News and Elections in Africa”, had each awardee receiving a plaque, a certificate, an all year long training programme and a cash prize ranging from $500 to $2000 dollars.
Congratulating the finalists, Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of MFWA, charged journalists to be truthful in their reports and uphold the integrity of the profession.
“Journalism is not an easy field but to stay true and objective means that you are dedicated to the job and that is why we have these awards to celebrate your hard work,” he told the finalists.
Advocate Pansy Tlakula, Information Commissioner for South Africa and the guest of honour in her remarks noted that the work of a journalist was not easy.
“It is not lucrative nor is it easy but it requires good moral values and dedication. And to stand by your values as you do your reportage already means you deserve to be awarded,” she added.
Advocate Tlakula called on the experienced journalists across Africa to train the younger generation of reporters to possess moral values before they were swayed by oppressive forces.
“We know our leaders can trample on human rights for economic gains and the burden lies on journalists who are on the front lines to report on the doings of our leaders and not just the good but also the bad they do,” she urged.
She congratulated each journalist for their hard work and dedication to journalism and hoped more journalists could be inspired by the works they do.
BY FREDERICK GADESE-MENSAH