Nairobi – All four South African journalists nominated for the landmark 20th CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2015 won their respective categories in the prestigious competition.
All South African journalists nominated took home trophies handed out at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Kenya, Nairobi on Saturday night where the Burkinabé journalist Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou won the top prize as the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year.
Photojournalist Herman Verwey from the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld in South Africa won the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award for his photos of the murder trial of the paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius.
"When you look at Herman Verwey's work, for a second, you can wonder… the characters are so full of life, these pictures really give you a sense of their feelings. Herman’s body of work gives also a proper idea of the high pressure that surrounded this trial, so important for the South African society,” said the judges.
Sarah Wild writing for the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa won the Technology & Innovation reporting Award for her story Robot to test health of ocean 'lungs'.
"Sarah Wild delivered an original report on a major innovation in research over global warming, conducted by a South African scientific team. It's an excellent reminder that there are African-led research programs at the forefront of the climate change issue. Sarah Wild transports the reader into the heart of the project, with the team deploying this new generation of sea-cruising robots," said the judges.
Julie Laurenz and Jacqueline Jayamaha working freelance for the e.tv TV channel in South Africa won in the Features Award category for their harrowing profile piece, Viola's Hope, about a mother addicted to woonga, the cut-price heroin spliced with household products.
"Tragic. Educative. Committed. The team which brought us this piece spent over a month putting it together and they stayed with their story which was well-shot, produced and written," said the judges of the TV story.
‘Journalism can be very dangerous, lonely’
Hyacinthe Boowurosigue Sanou was awarded the overall CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year 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.
The enterprising journalist was clever and booked a room in the hotel in room 143 to snoop as his feature article took readers to the night before when members of parliament attempted to win sufficient support to extend Campaore's term and met in the hotel.
"My story was about power and how people can fight against it – I'm so proud that the story has been told and will now be remembered," said Sanou.
He was one of 32 finalists from 15 African countries who attended the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2015 held in Nairobi, Kenya for the first time since 2005. The competition drew over 1 400 entries this year from 39 African countries
"Journalism can be very dangerous and can be very lonely," said Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of the City Press newspaper in South Africa and the chairperson of the judging panel.
"Tonight's winners really demonstrated the very best of journalism – from powerful investigative journalism through to celebratory stories of hope and change," said Deborah Rayner, the senior vice president for international news gathering, TV and Digital, at CNN International (DStv 401).
"I've seen tremendously courageous reporting, brilliantly innovative reporting and highly entertaining reporting. The awards really do cover the full panorama of all that is good in journalism," says Tony Maddox, the executive vice president and managing director of CNN International.
Tim Jacobs, the CEO of MultiChoice Africa said the journalists "words and images reflect the reality of our world and attest to the important role the media plays in Africa's development".
"Our partnership with CNN gives us an opportunity to celebrate and help echo the voices of the best journalists and most compelling stories," says Imtiaz Patel, the CEO of video entertainment for Naspers.
The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards 2015 brought the previous years' winners together on stage for the 20th year and contained a beautiful retrospective insert looking back at how the continent's "Oscars for journalism" has grown over the past two decades.
It will be broadcast on AfricaMagic World (DStv 155) on 17 October with presenters Zain Asher from CNN International and Mark Masai from Kenya's NTV.