A team of five Kenyan schoolgirls yesterday received the Daily Trust the African of the Year award for 2018.
The girls, Stacy Owino, Purity Achieng, Ivy Akinyi, Synthia Otieno and Macrine Atieno - from the western Kenyan city of Kisumu - won the coveted award for developing a mobile application called "I-cut" which has become a very useful tool in the war against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Although FGM is illegal in Kenya, it is still widely practiced in the country and many other countries in Africa and around the world.
I-cut connects girls at risk of circumcision with rescue centres. It also gives legal and medical help to those who have been subjected to FGM.
The teenagers, called "the Restorers", were Africa's only representatives at Google's 2017 Technovation Challenge which took place in Silicon Valley, California, USA.
The girls' team leader, Stacy Owino, was presented a cash prize of $25,000 at an award dinner in Abuja.
Stacy said the award came as a surprise to the team, considering the calibre of the previous winners.
"We never expected this award but look at us now, it is that little thing that we do that really makes difference in the society," she said, adding that the $25,000 prize would help in making the app to be in use.
Chairman of the prize committee and former president of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogae, said after scrutinizing the profiles of the nominees, the committee was "unanimous in its decision to award the 2018 Prize to The Restorers", referring to the young girls.
"It is my hope that the award recipients will motivate a movement towards enhanced awareness about Female Genital Mutilation through their newly developed application, particularly in this digital age," he said.
Chairperson of the occasion and Wife of the Senate President, Mrs Toyin Saraki, congratulated the girls, who, she said, had sought to rebalance power structures for the good of citizens.
The Kenyan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Wilfred G. Machage, who is the Special Guest of Honour, thanked the management of Daily Trust for honouring the girls. Machage was represented by the deputy head of mission, Lydia Momanyi Musyoki.
The maiden award, in 2008, was presented to a Congolese gynaecologist, Dr. Denis Mukwege, in recognition of his exemplary humanitarian offer of free reconstructive surgery to victims of rape in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
The subsequent awards had been won by the late Tajudeen Abdulraheem (2009), Mr. Danny Jordan (2010), Judge Mrs. Fatimata Bazeye (2011), Mr. Thabo Mbeki (2012) and Dr. Donald Kaberuka (2013).
The 2014 and 2016 awards were skipped owing to the prevalence of Ebola disease in parts of Africa and exceptional challenges of funding respectively, while Mr. Gregoire Ahongbonon emerged winner of the 2015 award.
Ghana's Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar won the 2017 edition for his works on counter-terrorism which led to de-radicalization of would-be extremists in Africa.
Meanwhile, the 16th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue will hold today, January 17, 2019, at 10 am in Abuja.
The event themed "Youth and Democracy: The Nigerian Challenge" would be held at the NAF Conference Centre and Suite, along Ahmadu Bello Way, Kado, Abuja.
The event is open to members of the public.