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CNN AFRICAN JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR COMPETITION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SABC


Declan Okpalaeke

For some, birthdays, anniversaries and the likes constitute the happiest moments. For others it is that moment they walk down the aisle and say "I do". I have not walked the wedding aisle, but I have enjoyed many birthdays, seen many Christmases, celebrated several new years. Still nothing compares to my walking up the stage that day in March, 1999 to receive my award from the whole Africa. It remains my greatest moment ever.

Declan Okpalaeke
CNN African Journalist of the Year 1999


INFORMATION ON LAST YEAR'S FINALISTS


Winners

Last year’s finalists with Chris Cramer, President of CNN International.


Mr. Declan Okpalaeke, The Guardian Nigeria : CNN AFRICAN JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Ms. Janet Mba-Afolabi, Newswatch Communications, Nigeria : 1st Prize, Print, General News

Mr. Osita Nwajah, Independent Communication Network, Nigeria : 2nd Prize, Print, General News

Mr. Ima Niboro, Tell Magazine, Nigeria : 3rd Prize, Print, General News

Ms. Kim Cloete, SABC Television, South Africa : 2nd Prize, Television

Mr. Vinicius Hodges, Star Radio, Liberia : 1st Prize, Radio

Ms. Marianne Merten, Cape Talk (Primedia), Cape Town : 2nd Prize, Radio

Mr. Sy Lerman, Sunday Times, South Africa : Sports Finalist

Mr. Declan Okpalaeke, The Guardian, Nigeria : Health/Medical Finalist

Mr. Linus Ole Kaikai, Kenya Television Network, Kenya : Environment Finalist

Mr. Themba Hadebe, The Star, South Africa : Mohamed Amin Photography Award



WHAT THE FINALISTS' HAD TO SAY …….

'The African Sportswriter of the Year award sustained me through one of the most trying periods of my career. It was a beacon of pride and encouragement that helped me in a way nothing else might have done. Thank you CNN and all those who made it possible'

Mr. Sy Lerman, Sunday Times, South Africa
Sy Lemman

Osita Nwajah

'To say that being a CNN African Journalist of the Year Finalist opened doors for me, would be an understatement. For me, that was the last symbolic rite of admission into the international community of ideas. Nothing better has happened professionally to me'

Mr. Osita Nwajah, Independent Communication Network, Nigeria

'Winning the CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards for two years consecutively (March 1998 [Television Finalist] and 1999 [Environment Finalist]) has been the most exciting happenings in my three year as a journalist. The impact it has had is immense. I can't help feeling so certain about a bright future in television journalism. My confidence has been bolstered and psyche boosted to incredible limits. Above all, the two Awards are a daily reminder to me that I cannot afford to slip - the quality of work must always remain good'

Mr. Linus Ole Kaikai, Kenya Television Network, Kenya
Linus Ole Kaikai

Marianne Merten

'Recognition by peers is an important element in journalism, especially when it comes from an internationally renowned media organisation like CNN. As such winning in the radio category last year has boosted confidence in one's work and renewed the dedication to finding the odd angle to a story or tracing the not immediately obvious persons to interview. Often Africa is portrayed as a Continent in turmoil where famine and wars receive top news priority. But the awards showed there is just so much more: from the herbal equivalent of Viagra to community solidarity in fighting deforestation. In the light of the African Renaissance, the recognition of a sometimes quirky approach to events or the focus on ordinary human beings as the centre of news has been refreshing for me as a reporter working on the Continent. The interaction with other journalists' from different countries spanning Africa from West to East and South was a special opportunity to compare working conditions, discuss the role of the media as well as our hopes and dreams'

Marianne Merton, Cape Talk (Primedia)

'For me the CNN African Journalist of the Year Award is the best thing since sliced bread. Being a finalist has meant new opportunities and challenges which I consider the crowing jewel of my career. It is a wonderful feeling to be the honouree and celebrate the success of Journalism Internationally with your peers.'

Vinicius Hodges, Star Radio
Vinnie Hodges

Kim Cloete

'The CNN African Journalist of the Year Award is an excellent opportunity for journalists to present their work and receive recognition for it. It is also particularly special as it showcases a wide range of stories coming out of the continent which we seldom read about or see in our home countries. I was thrilled and honoured to be a finalist last year. It spurred me on to work harder and tackle stories with greater creativity. I have kept contact with the subjects of my story which made it into the finals. They are the homeless and unemployed people in Cape Town who sell the magazine, The Big Issue. The media coverage on the awards also gave the magazine much-needed exposure.

I was thrilled and honoured to be a finalist last year. It was an unforgettable highlight of my career. It also spurred me on to work harder and tackle stories with greater creativity.

The awards showcased such a wide range of stories coming out of the continent which we seldom read about or see in our home countries. For this reason alone, the awards are so worthwhile. It encourages journalists from around Africa to initiate stories to be proud of.'

Kim Cloete, SABC [Television News]


Themba Hadebe

'Winning the CNN African Journalist / Mohamed Amin Photographic Award was, and still is the best highlight of my career. I mean, it had a very strong emotional and intellectual impact on me to grow and develop not only in terms of photography. And also meeting and spending time with renowned people from the African continent was really unique, for once we can seriously get together with the objective to share experiences and to break the isolation of living too close to your own country.

Once more, I feel very honoured to be a recipient of this prestigious award and hope that CNN and other sponsors will keep the light shining in Africa.'

Themba Hadebe, The Star


Ima Niboro

'It has opened up a vista of possibilities that I knew existed, but never gave thought to. The world opened up, and I, with it. And in moreways than one, I am better equipped for my work, even when, with the reputation and status the award confers, the challenges appear greater than before.'

Ima Niboro, Tell Magazine, Nigeria




Janet Mba

'Since I won the CNN Award, I have received a lot of recognition among colleagues and people in other professions. The Award has also opened doors for me and I am now being rated as one of the top journalists in Nigeria.'

Janet Mba-Afolabi
Newswatch, Nigeria





Click here to see more information on last year's 1998 Awards Event.

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