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

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:  Dataphyte 


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: Dataphyte   

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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