Decorated investigative journalist John Allan Namu has added another award to his already well stocked cabinet for his expose, #TheProfiteers which laid bare how South Sudanese warlords and their families are living large in different East African countries including Kenya blowing proceeds of corruption while their home country remains in a constant state of war.
Namu alongside five other Africa Uncensored journalists including Elijah Kanyi (camera operator), Samuel Munia (camera operator), Steve Biko (video editor) and Clement Kumalija (graphics artist) won Trace International’s 2019 prize for investigative reporting during the award ceremony held in Vancouver, Canada on Wednesday.
The award was presented to Namu by Trace International CEO and founder Alexandra Wrage.
Speaking after being feted, Namu said that he was elated to have won the award but stated the most important thing was to draw the world’s attention to what is happening in South Sudan.
“We are also very excited to be one of the first two African teams to have won this award,” said Namu, a multiple Media Council of Kenya (MCK) Annual Journalism Excellence Award (AJEA) winner.
#TheProfiteers was published on Africa Uncensored’s You Tube page in October 2018 after the production company’s negotiations with KTN News broke down, the media house had expressed interest in airing the expose and had even run its promo but wanted certain parts of the documentary edited out before proceeding to broadcast it.
“They were largely happy with the story, but wanted to remove certain parts of it as they sought comment from an adversely mentioned person. We disagreed, given that we had already sought fair comment from this person,” tweeted Namu.
“We differed with the decision by KTN News to hold the story, but we respect it. They have their platform, and we have ours. We feel that we have met the threshold for it to be seen by the public, and for the public to judge it on its own merit,” added Namu.
And as it would be expected, KTN took alot of flak online for failing to air the three-part documentary with many opining that the decision was cowardly.
The documentary exposed how Kenyan banks are complicit in the instability in South Sudan by allowing the warlords to bank their dirty money in Kenya. It also exposed how one of the warlords, former South Sudan army honcho General Paul Malong is being protected by Kenya’s military.
Besides that, the documentary also exposed how Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels were taking advantage of instability in the country to sell teak, an extremely valuable type of wood illegally fell from the country’s forests in regions controlled by the rebels to the the highest bidder.
The African Uncensored journalists were not the only recipients of the award which is claimed by journalists who uncover business bribery or related financial crime.
Khadija Sharife from the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a consortium of investigative journalists from across the world and Philippe Engels, a freelancer were also feted for their project The Unlikely Partnership that Unlocked Congo’s Crude, an investigative piece which exposed endemic bribery in Congo’s oil states.
Khadija and Phillipe’s report was published by OCCRP and Médor, a Belgian and cooperative investigative and news report magazine both in English and French.
Namu is a widely respected investigative journalist. 2009 was his most successful year as he won the Television Bulletin Award, Television Features Award and the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Award.
He first broke into the scene during his time as a budding investigative reporter at KTN alongside Dennis Onsarigo (current Taita Taveta County communications boss) and Mohammed Ali (current Nyali MP).