South African journalists and female journalists across the African continent were the big winners as they took home the lion's share of trophies on Saturday night at the 21st CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 where Asha Ahmed Mwilu and Rashid Idi from Kenya's KTN won the overall award.
South African journalism and journalists saw a resurgence at the annual, pan-continental CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 that this year was once again held in South Africa and celebrated the best in African journalism with a record number of 1 637 entries across 38 countries.
The ceremony, with hosts Zain Asher from CNN International and South African presenter Robert Marawa, once again capped a 4-day programme of workshops, media forums and networking as part of Africa's most prestigious awards dedicated to honouring excellence in journalism.
Saturday night saw 9 South Africans won across 6 categories at the gala awards ceremony held at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg.
Female journalists this year also noticeably ran rings around their male counterparts for hard-hitting and impactful stories in a news industry where women are often incorrectly stereotyped as supposedly only doing "soft news" reporting.
South African winners included Fiona Macleod (jointly with John Grobler from Namibia) for the environment award; Diana Neille, Richard Poplak, Shaun Swingler and Sumeya Gasa from Daily Maverick for the economics and business award; Mia Malan from The Mail & Guardian winning the features category; Jay Caboz from Forbes Africa winning the energy and infrastructure award; photographer James Oatway from The Sunday Times winning the photography category for his images of the killing of Emmanuel Sithole; and Ancillar Mangena of Forbes Africa receiving the Maggie Eales Young journalist award.
Some of the South African journalists’ prize winning stories ranged from the exploitation by Coca-Cola Africa of workers through outsourcing, to the sad reality of the country's rampant rape culture and James Oatway's harrowing images of the killing of Emmanuel Sithole in xenophobic violence that shook the country to its core.
'We will stop until we tell the truth'
Overall winner Asha Ahmed Mwilu - in an impassioned speech for her investigative TV story together with Rashid Idi, "Terror Crossing" about security at the Kenya-Somali border that was broadcast on Kenya Television Network (KTN) - said journalists across Africa won't stop exposing the truth.
"Journalists across the continent - we are being prosecuted, we are being killed, we are being jailed for the stories that we are telling because we are truth-seekers. But we are unrelenting. We will never stop until we tell the truth."
"We will continue to be the voices of our people - whether positive or negative - we will tell their stories," said Asha Ahmed Mwilu.
All the finalists receive both a cash prize and tablet, with the overall two winners receiving a further cash prize and the chance to visit CNN Headquarters in Atlanta and participating in the CNN Journalism Fellowship.
Ferial Haffajee, former City Press editor and chairperson of the judging panel, asked what she makes of the this year's strong showing of South African journalists winning for exceptional South African journalism, says "for several years as a South African judge I've been noticing that it was definitely the turn of Kenya and Nigeria to take the top spots".
"This year has seen a resurgence of South Africa in the competition. And if you look at what won, it's actually long form, narrative journalism, where good journalists have been given an opportunity to go out and to really report on stories that we don't talk about."
About the large number of women who won awards this year, Ferial Haffajee said "generally, the investment in training woman journalists is beginning to show itself".
"So women are increasingly getting to do things, a lot of television also benefiting from that investment and their time and their skills, and they're just going out there and using every opportunity."
Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO who presented Asha Ahmed Mwilu and Rashid Idi with their top journalism prize thanked them and the continent's journalists "for telling the stories of Africa and its people to the world".
"We're proud to play a role in amplifying your voices and the voices of other journalists across the African continent".
Greg Beitchman, the vice president for content sales and partnerships at CNN International (DStv 401) thanked journalists for their powerful reporting.
Here's the full list of winners at the 21st CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 :
John Grobler, Namibia, & Fiona Macleod, South Africa
Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism
‘Caught in the crossfire: how cattle and Chinese mining interests are killing off Namibia’s black rhinos’
Al Ahram Weekly, Egypt
‘Against all odds: Stories of the visually impaired women from Egypt's Al Nour Wal Amal Orchestra’
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION AWARD
Chika Oduah, Nigeria, Freelance for African Media Initiative, Kenya
‘The App That Saved 1,000 Children’
ECONOMICS & BUSINESS AWARD
Diana Neille, Richard Poplak, Shaun Swingler & Sumeya Gasa, Daily Maverick, South Africa
‘Casualties of Cola: Outsourcing, Exploitation & the New Realities of Work’
Mia Malan, Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Title: ‘Diepsloot: Where men think it's their right to rape’
FRANCOPHONE GENERAL NEWS AWARD – ELECTRONIC MEDIA
Bidossèssi Appolinaire Agoïnon, Office de Radiodiffusion et Télévision du Bénin, Benin
FRANCOPHONE GENERAL NEWS AWARD – PRINT
Faten Hayed, El Watan, Algeria
‘L’Algérie, ma terre de djihad’
ENERGY & INFRASTRUCTURE AWARD
Jay Caboz, Forbes Africa, South Africa
‘40 Years of Mozambique - The Dead Port that Rose Again’
James Oatway, The Sunday Times, South Africa
‘The Killing of Emmanuel Sithole’
HEALTH & MEDICAL AWARD
Veronica Narkwor Kwabla, TV3 Network, Ghana
‘Freetown Ebola Orphans’
NEWS IMPACT AWARD
Asha Ahmed Mwilu & Rashid Idi, Kenya Television Network, Kenya
PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE GENERAL NEWS AWARD – PRINT
Bento Venâncio, Jornal Domingo, Mozambique
‘Albinos em perigo’
PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE GENERAL NEWS AWARD – ELECTRONIC MEDIA
Fidelto Emidio Bata, STV, Mozambique
PRESS FREEDOM AWARD
Bob Rugurika, Burundi
SPORT REPORTING AWARD
Yemisi Akinbobola, Ogechi Ekeanyanwu & Paul Bradshaw, IQ4News for Premium Times, Nigeria
‘Follow the Money: Who extracts the value of Nigerian footballers?’
MAGGIE EALES YOUNG JOURNALIST AWARD
Ancillar Mangena, Forbes Africa, South Africa
‘Prophets of profit in the business of belief’