‘I thought this prize was only for white people,’ says journalist who won CNN award

2015-10-16 13:26
Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou named CNN Multichoice African Journalist 2015 ceremony held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: DSTV.COM

Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou named CNN Multichoice African Journalist 2015 ceremony held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: DSTV.COM

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Winning the coveted CNN MultiChoice African journalist of the year award was one thing. But now that the dust has settled, Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou says he needs to show people that he deserved the win.

Sanou was awarded the award for his story Room 143, which was published in the Burkinabé daily newspaper L’Observateur Paalga and covered the ousting of Blaise Campaore, who had ruled over Burkina Faso for 27 years.

Room 143 was the number of the room that Sanou had taken in the hotel where members of Burkina Faso’s Parliament attempted to win sufficient support to extend Campaore’s term.

Sanou beat 31 other journalists from 15 countries to the award, which was handed over in Nairobi, Kenya on October 10.

Speaking to City Press this week, the humble man said: “I had the perception that this prize was only for white people. But when President Uhuru Kenyatta [of Kenya] called out my name as a winner, it felt like I was day dreaming,” he said.

“I’m not blessed, but I am the lucky one to win this award.”

He said that being among the finalists was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

“I didn’t see this coming – to win the overall prize is a bonus,” he smiled.

City Press’ editor in chief, Ferial Haffajee, was chairperson of the judging panel.

She told CNN that “Room 143 was a work of enterprise. Burkina Faso’s parliamentary protest saw Blaise Campaore leave his seat and the country. This was a remarkable moment in a newsworthy year.”

Sanou’s advice to young people who wanted to win the prize is: “It is important to find the right topic and write it very well, as if it’s your last story,” he said.

Asked what’s next for him, he said: “Everybody is looking at me now. It is my duty to show people every day that I deserve this award.”

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