Two journalists from Ghana, Nigeria named joint winners of West Africa Journalist of the Year 2021


By: Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA)

The applause was loud and took time to die down when two journalists, Kwetey Nartey of Ghana and Samad Uthman of Nigeria, were announced joint winners of the West Africa Journalists of the Year 2021.

With their works too close to call, the judges decided to hand over the ultimate prize to the two journalists at the fifth edition of the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA).

Kwetey Nartey’s story—Robbing the Poor—is a two-part investigation.  It was an inquiry into how some produce buying clerks find dubious means to cheat cocoa farmers. The clerks also paid the farmers less for premium cocoa, certified ordinary cocoa as premium, and smuggled names into beneficiary communities under the cocoa certification programme.

These acts defeat the purpose of Ghana’s Cocoa Sustainability Programme. And Kwetey Nartey’s story exposed that.

Before emerging as the favourite for the top award, Kwetey Nartey had earlier swept the Investigative Reporting category award for the night.

His Nigerian peer, Samad Uthman, also won the Health Reporting category for his story, which tracked participants of a Pfizer Meningitis vaccine trial 24 years ago in the Northern Nigerian state of Kano.

The victims who are still suffering from the side effects of the vaccine were not compensated. Although they have not been compensated, Pfizer claimed it obtained closure on the matter in 2016.

It was a night of many firsts—it was the first time two journalists split the honours for the coveted journalism prize since the inception of the award in 2017. It was also the first time a Nigerian won the ultimate prize.

Nartey spoke of the threats, intimidations and psychological scars he endured after the story was aired. He said the award was a relief for those scary moments.

His Nigerian counterpart, Samad Uthman, who fought for the health of others said he also fell ill while in Kano. The award was a gratifying moment for him.

Nartey and Uthman were part of the 21 finalists selected by a jury from the 711 entries submitted by journalists across the sub-region.

The two take the crown from last year’s winner and Ghanaian investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, also a former employee of the Multimedia Group. Mr. Azure has won the ultimate price twice, in 2018 and 2020.

Other category winners of the night were:

Category: West Africa Journalist of the Year

Winner: Kwetey Nartey

Media House: Multimedia Group

Country:  Ghana

Category: West Africa Journalist of the Year

Winner: Samad Uthman

Media House:  International Centre for Investigative Reporting  

Category: Environmental Reporting

Winner:  Chinedu Asadu

Media House: The Cable

Country:  Nigeria

Category: Anti-Corruption Reporting

Winner: Caleb Ojewale

Media House: Business Day

Country:  Nigeria


Category: Health  Reporting

Winner: Samad Uthman

Media House: International Centre for Investigative Reporting  

Country:  Nigeria


Category: ICT Reporting

Winner: Gideon Sarpong

Media House: iWatch Africa

Country:  Ghana


Category: Business Reporting   

Winner: Alfred Olufemi


Country:  Nigeria


COVID-19 Reporting

Winner:  Chikodi Okereocha

Media House:  The Nation

Country: Nigeria

Organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa, WAMECA honours exemplary work, in-depth investigations and exceptional storytelling.

Executive Director of the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, in his welcome address hoped “WAMECA awards will continue to inspire and motivate winners and at the same time inspire others to do more.”

This year’s WAMECA was held under the theme, “Misinformation, Digital Media Regulation and Journalism in Africa.”

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.


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