By Heggar Maviza
“Whoever tells the truth is chased out of nine villages”, these were the opening words of the 2020 African Fast-Check Ceremony Awards Host’, Lee Mwiti, who is also chief editor at Africa Check.
The seventh award ceremony was held virtually on Thursday, October 22, during the African Investigative Journalism Conference 2020 (AIJC2020).
Africa Check is a non-profit organisation set up in 2012 to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa. They work to raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.
Devised by the non-profit media development arm of the international news agency AFP (Agence France-Presse), Africa Check is an independent organisation with offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Dakar. They produce reports in English and French, testing claims made by public figures, institutions and the media against the best available evidence.
This year’s submissions were the highest with 192 entries by a total of 140 journalists and 28 journalism students, emanating from 27 countries across the continent, which only shows how much growth these awards is achieving since its inaugural year in 2014.
The winners and runners-up of the two awards given out all hail from Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. The winners and runners up were announced by Africa Check’s executive director, Noko Makgato.
Nigerian journalist Taiwo Adebulu took home the bigger award of the day for Fact-Check Of The Year By A Working Journalist for his investigative work, “FACT CHECK: Nigeria told UN that 7 varsities run strictly on renewable energy, but is this true?”
Adebulu won an amount of $3,000.
South African journalist, Aisha Abdool Karim was the runner-up in the same category with the work, “The coronavirus ‘vaccine’ Ekurhuleni wants to import doesn’t exist” and was awarded a cash prize of $1,500.
Student journalist Marième Fatou Dramé received the award for the Fact-check of The Year By A Student for “Une organisation féministe publie des informations trompeuses sur les jeunes filles sénégalaises ( absentéisme scolaire, gestion des règles)”
Oluwaseye Ogunsanya from Lagos State University with the work, “Did Nigeria’s Minister of Education Announce Resumption of Schools On September 7?” was the runner-up of the prestigious award.
Marième and Oluwaseye received $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.
The record number of African Fact-Checking awards entries comes at a time where across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered a flood of dangerous false information.
The pandemic has raised the stakes even higher in the fight against misinformation, requiring that the media play an even more active role in sifting the facts from the fiction.
“With health-related decisions sometimes being a matter of life or death, good fact-checking journalism is vital – now more than ever. The quality of information disseminated in public can determine the life outcomes of many and so it is the responsibility of the media to refrain from being conduits of misinformation,” said Makgato.
The Africa Check Editor, Senegal, Samba Badji, gave the background history of Africa Check before the awards ceremony. He concluded by saying, “We believe by continuing to organise fact-checking awards and providing tools, training and support to media and NGO’s we are outgrowing the wider practice of fact-checking”.
Also, the judging panel chair, Roukaya Kasenally said, “This year’s submissions were from very diverse subjects which are social, economic, and political.
“Most of the entries were very vigorously fact-checked and there was a wide entry spread submissions from both Anglophone and Francophone countries”, she added.
About the author:
Heggar Maviza, is a freelance journalist and photojournalist from Harare, Zimbabwe. She is an AIJC2020 Fellow.
Watch the Award Ceremony