NMG’s Zachary Nyakweba among winners of Wangari Maathai Young Journalists Award

Three journalists were awarded the Wangari Maathai Young Journalists award during this year’s AllAfrica Media Leaders’ Summit (AMLS) held in Nairobi from May 8 to 10, 2024.

This year’s summit brought together more than 300 African media owners and operators, government officials, corporate leaders, academics, civil society champions, and development partners to discuss the business of media and the critical role it must play in shaping Africa’s future.

Hope Nabalayo won the inaugural award, which recognises the use of digital tools for youth engagement in journalism.

“I highlighted the story of Tsisika, a mother of nine from Kakamega who faced a lot of stigma because she was suffering from post-partum depression. Eight of her children were taken by their different fathers, but she was determined to raise her last born despite being called ‘mad’ by her family.

“Her boldness in sharing the story enabled me to tell the story of mental struggles some women go through due to post-partum depression, and talk about the larger issue of mental health and wellness,” she said.

Ms Nabalayo said the award validates her work, and it drives her to humanise and dignify critical issues such as mental health.

Second runner up Zachary Nyakweba, who works for Nation Media Group’s video desk, said he was elated to be among the finalists.

“When I came across Juliet and heard her story about living with Narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes sudden bouts of sleep and drowsiness, I felt moved to highlight her plight.

“Little did I know that telling her story and of others living with the condition, the simple every day things such as cooking or driving that they could not do for themselves would get this recognition,” he said.

For him, Nyakweba added, the award was an honour. However, his passion comes from giving a voice to the plight of those whose voices go unheard.

The third runner’s up, Kairu Karega, termed the award “a wonderful surprise.” His story, which he did as his final year school project, focused on an unconventional alcoholics rehabilitation programme.

“Traditional addiction recovery often times takes place in formal settings such as rehabilitation centres where addicts share experiences and receive guidance in a structured manner.

“However, in Githogoro slums in Nairobi, I found a unique programme where addicts were connecting over a plate of ugali and meat, and being aided on a journey to sobriety.”

For Karega, the award was a nod to continue telling stories. He noted the importance of appreciating and highlighting the work of young journalists at the start of their careers.

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