Ugandan investigative reporter and news anchor Solomon Serwanjja is the 2019 winner of the Komla Dumor award. It goes to a journalist committed to changing the narrative about Africa.
Serwanjja, a presenter at Uganda’s NBS TV, hosts one of the channel’s prime-time shows. He has also produced award-winning reports, including one for BBC’s Africa Eye program about the illegal sale of prescription drugs.
The award was created to honor Komla Dumor, a presenter for BBC World News, who died suddenly aged 41 in 2014.
Serwanjja picked up the prestigious award after appearing in his documentary ‘Stealing from the Sick’ that unmasked drug theft in Uganda. During that exposé on government drugs stolen and sold abroad in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and in private health facilities, Serwanjja and journalists from the BBC were arrested for possession of classified drugs. Charges were later dropped after public outrage over the arrests.
As part of the prize, he will spend three months at the BBC in London and travel back to the continent to report on a story there.
“Komla, a Ghanaian journalist, brought so much to the African narrative – his perspective was a breath of fresh air, as he believed Africa was rising and that the world needed to see the continent from a different angle,” said Serwanjja.
“His reports always struck a chord with me, and I feel the same passion for our continent that he demonstrated. I want to continue his legacy by telling stories that cast a spotlight not only on the critical challenges we face in Africa, but also the progress and successes that have been made.”
Last year, Serwanjja reported on the environmental cost of stone quarrying. “The manner in which it is done has cost Uganda lives, cracked houses, a deeply scared environment and yet no one seems to be caring. Here is my investigative piece on “STONES OF BLOOD” that brings to light the dark side of the stone quarrying business in Uganda.” The piece can still be viewed on the Facebook page under his name.
Jamie Angus, director of BBC World Service Group, said: “To recognize and empower some of Africa’s leading talent in journalism, in honor of Komla, is really important to us.
“Komla’s reporting made a huge impact with audiences all over the world, and we’re excited to have Solomon at the BBC, to harness Komla’s commitment to telling African stories.”