Nigerian journalist with HumAngle Media, Muhammed Akinyemi has been adjudged Best Journalist in West Africa at the 2023 West Africa Media Excellence Conference & Awards (WAMECA).
WAMECA is an initiative of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) to help reflect on the developments within the media landscape on a regular basis as well as to award journalists in the region.
The awards ceremony for WAMECA 2023 was held on Saturday, November 11, at the World Trade Centre in Accra at the end of an insightful and engaging two-day Conference that brought together journalists from West African countries to discuss issues relating to media and democracy.
WAMECA 2023 was organised with support from the US Embassy in Ghana, OXFAM Ghana, West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), MTN-Ghana, and Stanbic Bank Ghana.
For this year’s awards, over 800 journalists sent entries for consideration for the awards in various categories.
After a thorough screening, the grand jury cut down the number and selected 17 finalists to be awarded.
Having reviewed the work of the finalists, Muhammed Akinyemi from Nigeria was named the Best Journalist in West Africa.
For his reward, he received a cash prize of $2,000 as well as a trophy and a citation.
Sharing a few words after receiving his award, Muhammed Akinyemi expressed appreciation to the Media Foundation for West Africa and its partners for putting together WAMECA.
He indicated that the top award is a motivation to keep going and he hopes to do more as a journalist.
“I’m grateful for this award. I’m grateful to my friends, my editors, my brothers, and the women in my life.
“I’m grateful to all the journalists who have done great work before me. I’m especially grateful to my father for being my first writing editor. Thank you to the MFWA and I hope to be able to do more,” Muhammed Akinyemi said.
In addition to his award as the overall best journalist in West Africa, Muhammed Akinyemi also won an award for his exceptional work in Environmental Reporting, earning an additional $500.
Below is the full list of awardees on the colourful night.
- Environmental Reporting - Muhammad Akinyemi (HumAngle Media, Nigeria) - $500
- Telecoms and ICTs - Emmanuel Kwasi Debrah (Multimedia Group, Ghana) - $500
- Business Reporting: Gbenga Salau (The Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria) - $500
- Migration Reporting category: Emmanuel Ayamga (Pulse Ghana) - $500
- Human Rights category: Komla Adom (TV3 Ghana) - $500
- Investigative journalism category: Francis Enchil (Multimedia Group, Ghana) - $500
- West Africa Journalist of the Year: Mohammed Akinyemi (HumAngle Media, Nigeria) - $2,000
Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Mr. Sulemana Braimah said at a time when the West African region is faced with a lot of challenges including insurgencies, the importance of the work of the media cannot be underestimated.
“We are going through a period where there is insurgency that is continuously escalating the security challenges of our region. We do have weakening democratic institutions. In moments like these, a lot of people look up to the media to hold duty bearers accountable and so a lot is expected from the media. Unfortunately, the media is not spared from the problems of our time.
“Despite all these challenges we have journalists in our region who continue to use journalism to shine a bright light on the dark spots of our society, giving voice to the voiceless. We are here to celebrate journalists who are making journalism count in the lives of their people. You are winners in your own right. To our finalists and winners I say congratulations to you,” Mr. Sulemana Braimah said in his welcome address.
Delivering a keynote address at the awards ceremony, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falan urged journalists on the continent not to allow themselves to be gagged because of the challenges faced in the line of duty.
“I encourage African journalists not to remain silent and indifferent in the face of civilian dictatorial regimes because it is not only the military who practice dictatorship,” Femi Falana said.
About West Africa Media Excellence Conference & Awards (WAMECA):
In the last 26 years, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has led efforts to promote media freedom and provided capacity-building to hundreds of media organisations and journalists across all countries in West Africa. Through its work, the MFWA has helped to position the media as key actors and supporters of democratic consolidation and national development in the sub-region.
With the emergence of new trends in freedom of expression and media development coupled with the constant advancement in technology, the media landscape in the sub-region continues to witness rapid changes with significant implications.
The conference brings together over 200 key personalities and organisations from across the region, continent, and the globe. Participants include media practitioners, academics, activists, civil society organisations, government officials, policymakers, intergovernmental organisations, development partners, and donors to reflect on the changing trends and challenges in the areas of free expression (online & offline) media development and access to information, and to develop strategies for tackling these challenges.
The Awards, on the other hand, is meant to reward and inspire media excellence in West Africa as well as honour West African journalists who have produced works that are impacting lives and societies positively.