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Uganda scoops two CNN Multichoice journalism awards

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th May 2010 03:00 AM

THE gala night for the 15th CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards on Saturday had it all.
Held at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre, the awards night even had H.E the President, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, as guest of honour.

THE gala night for the 15th CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards on Saturday had it all.
Held at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre, the awards night even had H.E the President, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, as guest of honour.

By Nigel Nassar

THE gala night for the 15th CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards on Saturday had it all.
Held at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre, the awards night even had H.E the President, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, as guest of honour.

Hosted by CNN’s beauty Isha Sesay and our renowned emcee Ronnie Mich Egwang, the event, a celebration of the best in African journalism, also brought together hundreds of guests from allover the African continent and beyond – journalists, editors, consultants — name them.

Museveni’s speech, which preceded the presentation of the awards, included a suggestion that CNN and Multichoice add “Patriotism” as a category journalists should compete for in the subsequent categories.

Without following it up though, the President emphasised how Government’s liberalisation of the media has advanced Ugandan journalism way ahead of many African countries, and warned journalist against abusing their freedom.

What endeared him more to his audience was his asking media owners to pay journalists well.

“Let us not have hungry journalists because then, they will be angry journalists who might end up misdirecting their anger.”
Then it was time for the awards presentation, in which two Ugandan journalists won big.

Leon Ssenyange of NTV Uganda and Halima Abdallah Kisule of The East African newspaper took home the CNN Multichoice Sport Award and Environment Award respectively.

That Uganda retained two of the 16 honours at the event is such a big deal.
In fact, Ssenyange and Kisule were the only Ugandan finalists in the competition this year, along with 25 others from 15 African countries.

Giving his acceptance speech, Ssenyange reiterated the famed and tasking words of the competition’s founder Edward Boateng: “Winning this award is one thing. What you do with it is another.”

But he promised to do a lot with his award – to continue telling the African sports story.

Ssenyange’s winning story aired on NTV’s Sports Bar last December, about a Naguru-based blind boxer, Bashir Ramadhan, who has gone against the odds to earn from boxing.

Kisule’s was about Uganda’s national emblem - the Crested Crane. Her story, published in The East African in May last year, told of how the beautiful bird could become extinct at the hands of human brutality and the poor habitat.

“I love nature,” she said. “In northern Uganda where I come from, this bird is not there. So when I went to the zoo in Entebbe and saw many of them unable to fly because of broken wings and legs, I was so appalled and had to tell this story.

“That I have been recognised internationally proves that my love for nature is not in vain. I will keep doing this,” promised the category winner.
The overall award, the CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year, went to Sam Rogers of e-tv, South Africa. The statuette was handed to her by Museveni.

Her story on how albinos in Tanzania are killed by witches to sell their skins as love portion convinced the panel of judges, chaired by Uganda’s Joel Kibazo, to give it the Television Features Award, as well as the overall title.

The remaining 14 countries shared the other awards in categories like Arts & Culture, Economics & Business, Free Press, HIV, Photography, Health & Medical, Print News, Radio News, Sport, TV Features, News Bulletin, Tourism and Digital Journalism.

This is the first time that the awards, which will be broadcast across Africa, were held in Uganda. But from what met the eye, it was a breathtaking event that exhibited meticulousness in the way it was organised – thanks in part to Silk Events and Multichoice Uganda.

During presentations of the French categories, emcee Mich impressed the crowd rattling off French like he was born in Paris.

And when he and Sesay did a joint presentation, you saw a chemistry and spontaneity so real you wouldn’t believe they were reading off a teleprompter. In fact, even Museveni, before leaving the venue, asked the duo to go forth and shake his hand, telling them “You did a good job.”

The event was crowned by an after-party late in the night, where winners, past and present, unwound on the dance floor to a constant flow of music, food and drinks.

Many clamoured to dance with the free-spirited Sesay, who didn’t object. Susan Kerunen and the Ndere Troupe entertained guests.

Winners took home a cash prize, laptop and a BlackBerry mobile phone.

Uganda scoops two CNN Multichoice journalism awards

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