2020 Isu Elihle finalists announced

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has announced its top six 2020 Isu Elihle Awards finalists chosen from over 100 entries received from 20 African countries.

The finalists will all receive support to develop their story ideas on children.

Luzuko Sonkapu and Kathryn Cleary from South Africa, Kunle Adebajo from Nigeria, Tatenda Chitagu and Mercy Mubayiwa from Zimbabwe, and Lesotho’s Matiisetso Mosala will each get R10 000 and support from MMA to help bring their stories to life.

The Isu Elihle Awards aims to amplify the voices of children in Africa and highlight their state on the continent. This year’s competition had over 100 entries from twenty African countries.

“The top five countries were Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe,” said Girlie Sibanda, MMA’s children’s programme coordinator.

“COVID-19 obviously featured quite a lot and in fact, three of our finalists actually pulled COVID-19 into the scope of their stories,” said Taryn Hinton, MMA’s Reporting on Children in the Media course coordinator who also adjudicated the top 32 entries.

Chitagu’s story is one of the top six stories that has a COVID-19 theme. He will be focusing on the plight of Zimbabwean immigrant children who quarantine in COVID-19 isolation facilities upon their return to Zimbabwe.

“When our government planned for isolation centres for the returning migrants they didn’t put much focus on them to be child-friendly. The children were put in the same shelter as adults,” he said.

Hinton said reporting on children cannot be “rushed out”, given ethical challenges such as consent and the identification of key players that needs to be considered.

“The thing about reporting on children is that it’s not easy but it is greatly rewarding,” Hinton said.

Africa has a young age structure, with about two fifths of its population in the 0-14 age bracket and nearly one fifth in the 15-24 age bracket, according to United Nations Economic Commission for Africa statistics.

Despite the noticeable trend of Africa getting younger, MMA director William Bird said children are rarely seen or heard by the media.

“These awards are a positive attempt to shift that,” he said.

The top six finalists have between September and November this year to complete their stories and publish their work in any mainstream media of their choice. The top three winners will be announced in November.

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