By Emeka Umejei & Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Zimbabwean newspaper, the Newsday and social media blog,@236Chat were the big winners at the 13th edition of the Telkom-highway Africa new media awards. The shiny awards were handed out during the Telkom Awards Dinner at the 1820 Settlers’ Monument in Grahamstown last night.
NewsDay won the prestigious Highway Africa Most Innovative Newsroom award in Grahamstown South Africa while 263chat won for Innovative Use of Technology for Community Engagement.
Group Editor-in-Chief of AMH, publishers of NewsDay, The Independent, Standard and Southern Eye, Vincent Kahiya said: “This recognition is ample evidence of our commitment to embrace the fast-changing technology in gathering, processing and presentation of our content,” said Kahiya. “The media industry is on an irreversible path towards change hence AMH’s adoption of the Digital First Strategy.”
263chat is a recently unveiled social network platform engaging Zimbabweans on various topical issues which saw its followers rise sharply in the past few months as Zimbabweans found the the platform very relevant bouyed by recent election chat.
Nigel Mugamu the founder of 263chat said “It has been such an honour to play a role in helping to create and encourage dialogue within Zimbabwe’s online space; especially the much-needed dialogue between the youth and the Zim diaspora. The award ultimately belongs to the #263Chat family for joining and expressing themselves as openly as they do each week and now even more each day. Let’s continue to debate and learn more through constructive dialogue.
TechZim, a prominent local Technology News blog also came second grabbing a runners up award to add pride to our Zimbabwean flag at the prestigious African awards.
Before around 350 well-heeled delegates, Newsday and 263chat were
declared winners of the Innovative Newsroom Category;
com (South Africa) came out tops in the best African ICT
blog category. The runners up in each category were Africa
Check.org (South Africa); Umuntu Media (South Africa); and
Techzim (Zimbabwe). Newsday was adjudged winner for
having 130,000 followers on Facebook and 25,000 on Twitter.
Thuli Sekgololo, representative of Telkom, sponsor of the
awards was pleased to tell delegates that the company had
been associated with the Highway Africa awards for the past
13 years, “because Telkom believes in connecting people.”
Guest of Honour Edna Molewa (SA minister of Water and
Environment Affairs) said the success of the 17th Highway
Africa conference as the “largest gathering of journalist on
the African continent speaks to how far we have come as a
Molewa emphasised that the media has an immense role
to play in the development of the African continent, although
she warned about threats like climate change to African
“If there are people who still think climate change is a
mystery, they should change their minds because the effect
of climate change puts the livelihood and health of our people
in danger,” Molewa said. She appealed to the media to help
educate people about these dangers.
The vote of thanks was given by Rhodes University
Deputy Vice Chance for Research Dr Peter Clayton. He
thanked students, staff, delegates and partners of Highway
Africa for another very successful conference.
Clayton said Highway Africa conference has grown
over the last 17 years to become the largest gathering of
journalists on the African continent. The more than 500
delegates came from 48 countries around the world, Clayton
Students on the Future Journalists Programme (FJP) also
received certificates. The FJP is a project of Highway Africa
(supported by the Open Society Foundation), that brings
together 15-20 journalism students to Rhodes University
every year for enrichment programmes and a chance to
network during Highway Africa.