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The place of Investigative Journalism in Africa

Corruption has continued to cripple institutions in Africa. The recent revelations in various government ministries in Kenya are appalling. Scandals involving billions of public money lost through unimaginably crazy tenders and other corrupt deals by top government officials and their cahoots are crippling service delivery in the various ministries and parastatals.

The recent disclosure by Ghanian undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas also paints a grave picture of the situation in the sports arena in Africa. The two-year undercover investigation into football in Africa has revealed footage of over 100 referees and officials taking cash before games. Kenyan referee Aden Range Marwa was also captured in the film taking a $600 bribe.

At the center of all these revelations of corruption stories lies the media. The media in Africa has been through a lot of challenges in the recent past including shutdowns and outright gagging.

Still , the media has been able to bring to light stories on corruption and on matters that affect society. This has helped in calling those in positions of authority to action.

The role of investigative journalists in unearthing these stories is crucial. According to Anas, journalism without any impact is not what Africa needs. As an undercover journalist, Anas, who also has a background in law uses hidden cameras to get hard core evidence to present to court. His stories must end in people implicated going to jail as he says, ‘we name, shame and jail’ the bad guys. His methods of getting his stories done have been questioned by many in Ghana but he has remained committed to doing what he does best. His works speak for him.

Borrowing from what he said a few months ago in Nairobi while speaking to student journalists, “One key thing that we should put in our minds as African journalists is that we have to redefine journalism according to our continent and the context within which we operate else we will lag behind. It is our continent, our problems are very different from those in the West. We are not there now, it is our time to sanitize our democracies too. We cannot sanitize that democracy by swallowing hook, line and sinker what has been cooked in Harvard or any other part of the world. We can only combat our problems by looking deep into our society.” Anas said.

The essence of journalism is about doing things that benefit our society. -Anas

How many investigative journalists does Africa have? How many are willing to sacrifice their time and risk their lives to unearth the ills in society and demand action from position holders? The media in Africa should rise to the challenge and execute their watchdogging role to the end. Cases of stories being killed are a common occurrence because of media ownership. The media should use its power for the good of the entire society.


Africa’s best Investigative Journalist

Yegon Emmanuel
Multimedia storyteller - Co-founder and Communications Director at Mobile Journalism Africa (

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