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CNN AFRICAN JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR AWARDS

DECLAN OKPALAEKE OF 'THE GUARDIAN', NIGERIA, WINS THE CNN AFRICAN JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR AWARD

Declan Okpalaeke from 'The Guardian', Nigeria, has beaten 180 entrants from 15 nations across the African continent to win this year's prestigious CNN African Journalist of the Year Award.

Mr Cyril Ramaphosa presented Okpalaeke with the award at a gala awards ceremony hosted by CNN International and its Awards sponsors at the Civic Theatre Johannesburg, on Thursday March 18th.

The judges were unanimous in choosing Okpalaeke as the overall winner for his powerful article on male infertility in the health/medical category, a new category introduced this year.

'The entry the judges all agreed upon without a shadow of a doubt was the best piece right through the competition, a piece on infertility called 'Message of Hope,' said Chairman of the Judging Panel, Joel Kibazo. 'He dealt with the subject in a sensitive way, it showed a depth of research and good use of interviews'.

As part of the Award, CNN will host Okpalaeke for three days in Atlanta and two days in New York at its annual World Report Conference in May this year, where he will have the opportunity to tour the CNN News Group operations and meet with key CNN executives including founder Ted Turner. During the time in New York there will be a United Nations Day, with a keynote speech by Secretary General Kofi Annan and a tour of the UN.

Additionally, Okpalaeke will receive a generous cash prize from CNN's major broadcasting partner and contributor to the awards, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

CNN congratulates all the winners including:

GENERAL NEWS:

Print:

1st Prize: Janet Mba-Afolabi, Newswatch Communications, Nigeria

Joint 2nd Prize: Ima Niboro, Tell Magazine, Nigeria

Joint 2nd Prize: Osita Nwajah, Independent Communication Network, Nigeria

Television:

2nd Prize: Kim Cloete, SABC, South Africa

Radio:

1st Prize: Vinicius Hodges, Star Radio, Liberia

2nd Prize: Marianne Merten, Cape Talk, South Africa

Environment:
Linus Ole Kaikai, Kenya Television Network, Kenya

Health/Medical:
Declan Okpalaeke, 'The Guardian', Nigeria

Also winner of the overall CNN African Journalist of the Year Award THE MOHAMED AMIN PRIZE:
Themba Hadebe, The Star, South Africa

Sport:
Sy Lerman, Sunday Times, South Africa

The winners received a cash prize, a laptop and a cellnet telephone, and were presented with a CNN African Journalist of the Year statuette.

Chris Cramer, president of CNN International, said: 'These winners represent what is best about indigenous journalism in Africa. CNN is delighted that the competition has brought forward such an array of talent and enterprise.'

The major contributor to this year's CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards was the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who, in addition to their support of the Awards, also aired highlights of the ceremony.

The Awards ceremony was also generously sponsored by South African Airways (SAA), and the following organisations: Multichoice, South Africa; Ashanti Goldfields, Ghana; Coastal Television Network, Tanzania; Fortune Group, Nigeria; IPP, Tanzania; London Satellite Systems, Mauritius; Merck Sharp-Dome (MSD) South Africa; Radio 702, South Africa; Aerial Empire/ATV, South Africa; Global Media Alliance, South Africa; and NEC. The official hotel sponsor was Johannesburg's Westcliff Hotel, with the Park Plaza Hotel, also in Johannesburg, providing accommodation for the finalists. The Mohamed Amin Award for photography was sponsored by Camerapix, Kenya.

Judging of the entries was completed in February in London by a distinguished panel of judges, including Akwe Amosu, Editor, Africa Weekly, BBC World Service Radio; outgoing CNN Johannesburg Bureau Chief Mike Hanna; Joel Kibazo, Financial Times; Pat Made, Regional Director-Africa, Inter Press Service; Phil Molefe, Editor-in-Chief, TV News, SABC; Ahmed Rajab, Editor, Africa Analysis; and Kaye Whiteman, General Manager, West Africa Magazine.

The Competition was open to all professional journalists in Africa who have been reporting from and about Africa and are based there.

CNN is currently preparing for this year's Competition, and for more information on how to enter, please email us on: bal.thind@turner.com

African Journalist of the Year Competition Press Releases:

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