Monday, October 20, 2014

DATELINE DAR ES SALAAM: Isha Sesay oddly absent as host, as Soni Methu steps in to present CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2014.

The CNN reporter and anchor Isha Sesay who did fly to Tanzania and who was announced and supposed to be the host, was oddly absent on Saturday evening when Soni Methu suddenly stepped in to be the host of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2014 in Dar es Salaam.

The journalist-filled studio audience at the Mlimani City conference centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania  instantly started to buzz, wondering and asking aloud: "Where is Isha?" when the new CNN International (DStv 401) presenter of Inside Africa, Soni Methu, appeared on stage to welcome the audience.

The organisers of Africa's most prestigious competition recognising and honouring excellence in journalism across the continent, earlier announced Isha Sesay as the host of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2014, and she is the one people expected to see as the presenter for the evening.

It is also Isha Sesay's name who appeared in the official, high-gloss printed programme for the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2014 as host for the evening.

Yet neither CNN International nor MultiChoice ever announced that Isha Sesay would no longer be the host, and no prior mention was made that Soni Methu would be the new host.

There was no explanation as to her absence and why Isha Sesay disappeared.

Earlier on Saturday morning in Dar es Salaam as part of the three day long media forum series of the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2014, the always eloquent Isha Sesay was part of a panel discussion regarding media coverage of Ebola, and on Friday evening she also showed up at a thank you dinner at the Akemi Revolving restaurant.

At the gala dinner on Saturday night following the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2014 journalist buzzed about Isha Sesay's absence. With no explanation from the organisers, multiple "conspiracy" theories bloomed.

Did Isha Sesay suddenly fly to Nigeria to cover the latest news about the missing Nigerian school girls - a story she gave exceptional coverage to earlier this year - since she was now again a hop skip and a jump away in Africa from that country?

Was Isha Sesay somehow pushed out at the last minute with Soni Methu pushed in?

Did Isha Sesay suddenly take ill?

Did Isha Sesay quickly fly to Sierra Leone to see her family and parents who still live there and to check on them, since she is very concerned about their well-being in the African country which is the epicentre of the struggle with Ebola?

Or was Isha Sesay "jealous" of Soni Methu also being a part of the event and refused to take part? Journalists thought this last theory was unlikely - both Isha Sesay and Soni Methu took several photos together, chatted the whole evening, and posed together with guest for photos at Friday evening's dinner.