22 September 2012

Tanzania: Winners Who Won't Send Material for CNN Award


IT is a month and some days, I believe since the CNN Africa Journalist of the year award was held in the Zambian city of Ndola. Once again, Tanzania emerged without a winner and as usual the blogsphere was hot with commentaries on why Tanzania has not yet produced a winner yet.

There can be as many opinions as there are people in this matter. However, one thing is sure, Tanzania has excellent journalists, news presenters, columnists and society commentators as can be found anywhere else on this continent. In establishing why

winners have not come out of Tanzania, we have to look at the format of the awards.

It is instructive that for one to be considered, one must present their own work. It takes some time, enthusiasm, desire and drive to apply. What if the organizing committee and eminent judges took the trouble to read, listen to and find actual winners as a panel rather than this current format?

In the current format, people who are excitable are likely to be yearly finalists while the more laid back but serious journalists never get to the judgment table because they simply are not there. In any case, great journalists tend to be laid back and hardly find it satisfying to present own works in quest of awards.

Hardly do they even know which of their works are lifechanging. Take the example of Jenerali Ulimwengu. Over the years, Jenerali has produced many columns that have in one way or the other changed the business of politics and life in Tanzania. To expect Jenerali to submit his articles for competitive judgment against writers he has trained is simply to shut him out from those awards.

His works have been published as Rai ya Jenerali and he continues to ask resourceful questions on his penetrating talk show Ulimwengu wa Jenerali on TV, questions which one can safely say are potential game changers. Would it not be nice to see the CNN Awards add a category of honours for people, yearly who continue to provide excellence as Jenerali does.

Is it not the same for Mzee Makwaia wa Kuhenga who among others is a columnist in this newspaper? The works of these two seasoned journalists deserve honour. I know they have been and continue to be honoured in different ways, but the CNN awards are probably Africa's premier journalism awards where not just the excitable journos get recognition. It should recognize the best among the best in categories that go beyond, applying, being considered and end up winning.

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