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Nigerian wins 2006 African journalist award

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Shola Oshunkeye receives his award from Mozambique President Armando Guebuza.

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MAPUTO, Mozambique (CNN) -- Nigerian journalist Shola Oshunkeye has been awarded the top prize at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2006 Awards ceremony.

Oshunkeye won the overall award for his TELL Magazine article "Niger's Graveyard of the Living," which was chosen from among 1,530 entries from 43 nations across the African continent.

He was one of 21 finalists at the awards ceremony Saturday night in Maputo. He also was the category winner of the MKO Abiola Print Journalist Award.

CNN International managing director Chris Cramer and Nolo Letele, chief executive of MultiChoice South Africa, presented Oshunkeye with the award.

"I would like to thank the photographer (Sunday Adah) for providing such compelling pictures because, without these, it would have taken a million words to bring the tragedy to life," Oshunkeye said.

Joel Kibazo, chairperson of the judging panel, said: "This story stood out and resulted in a unanimous decision by the judges that it should be the overall winner, a rare occurrence."

Cramer said this year's contestants unearthed "a wealth of voices, some old, some new, from around Africa, each with a compelling story to tell, and each demonstrating a quality of journalism, and in some cases a resourcefulness and bravery in pursuing the story in the first place, that has my deepest admiration."

Added Letele: "I continue to be amazed at the high standard of journalism that we see every year from this competition. These awards play an essential role in giving the media on this continent an identity, confidence and crucially, recognition for achievements, often in the face of insurmountable odds."

Eben Greyling, chief executive of MultiChoice Africa, said the finalists had shown "a deep commitment to the continuing development of Africa."

CNN's "Inside Africa" will air a report on the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2006 Awards ceremony on Saturday, July 22, at 1830 CET.

The Competition, now in its eleventh year, is held in association with South African Airways. The event is also held in collaboration with The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The overall CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2006 Award prize comprises a substantial cash prize, as well as a trip to CNN Center in Atlanta.

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