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Anglophone Journalists Disregard Bibi Ngota Award 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr — Laureates of the first edition of the Bibi Ngota Award for Journalism against Impunity in Africa have been divulged.  Charles "Cacharel" Ngah Nforngang emerged winner of the first edition of the award which seeks to beam the floodlights on the work of journalists unveiling impunity in various domains across Africa.

Ngah: Winner of Bibi Ngota Award for Journalism prize

Conspicuously absent from the roster of winners of the prize hatched by a Cameroonian last year are Anglophone reporters.  “No Anglophone journalist participated this year… Hopefully, an Anglophone journalist will win the $1000 cash prize next year,” a note accompanying an April 23 release announcing the award victors stated. 

The communiqué did not disclose the total number of competing entries for the award that almost instantly elicited polemics across Cameroon’s media landscape upon introduction.  For purists, christening the award after the deceased Bibi Ngota in the first place constituted a resonating blunder. 

Germain Cyrille Ngota Ngota, alias Bibi Ngota was founder of the little-known Cameroon Express newspaper.  He died on April 22, 2010 at the Yaoundé Kodengui prison where he was remanded pending trial for using forged documents as he “probed” a potential corruption scandal involving several high-profile government officials.  For many Anglophone journalists, Ngota was more of a “media mobster and terrorist” who would not spare the chance to blackmail and squeeze bribe from his targets.

“To me, Ngota was just a conman using journalism as cover who died in the line of duty.  He is not alone.  The Cameroon media arena is packed full with others of his caliber,” a Douala-based reporter electing anonymity posited.  “His kinds are those dragging the profession into mud in Cameroon and promoters of such awards ought to have known that; or shall we conclude that they too are scammers using the late Ngota’s name to obtain funds from donors?” another journalist with the state-run CRTV charged.

Nonetheless, the award, promoted by one Patrice Nganang will be handed out on May 24 2012 in Douala.  Nforngang grabs the $1000 cash prize for a series of articles he authored on the human rights situation in Cameroonian prisons.  The stories exposed illegal detention, abusive arrests and incarceration without trial, poor feeding in prisons, violation of procedures, etc. 

The Bibi Ngota Award jury members say Nforngang’s stories ranked tallest “because as a collective, they paint a compelling story of life in Cameroon’s prison system.”  Nforngang is trainer for print journalism at the Jade multimedia press agency in Douala, and the correspondent for the Syfia press agency, and several other outlets.

Other laureates include Christian Locka, also of  JADE Cameroon in second place and Mauritanian journalist Diabate Samba Diop of Le Quotidien de Nouakchott in third.

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