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[afro-nets] Stars step out at Red Ribbon Awards on HIV/AIDS
- From: Omololu Falobi <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 13:46:38 +0100
Stars step out at Red Ribbon Awards on HIV/AIDS
Lagos, Nigeria: Eighteen stars shone in the skies last Sunday,
December 5 2004. They were men and women, young and old, all
dressed in their best attires, who stepped out to receive na-
tional recognition as heroes of Nigeria onslaught against the
About 220 brightly-dressed men and women, who gathered at the
Banquet Hall of the Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, witnessed
Ten journalists, two people living with HIV, two media organisa-
tions and four AIDS organisation were honoured at the award
event - the 4th edition of the Red Ribbon Awards on HIV/AIDS.
The awards programme was organised by Journalists Against AIDS
(JAAIDS), with support of several partner organisations.
It was a night of glamour and relentless applause. Among the
brightest stars of the night were Ms. Esse Nsed and Mr. Freder-
ick Adegboye, both HIV-positive.
Esse, 27, won the Breaker of Silence Award, which honours indi-
viduals whose actions, interventions or pronouncements have sig-
nificantly contributed to breaking the silence surrounding
HIV/AIDS in their community.
Esse is the first openly-positive person in Cross River State,
Nigeria's number one tourism destination, which also has the
country's highest HIV prevalence (12 percent). Until very re-
cently, she remained the only openly-positive person in the
whole of the state, an almost incredible reality given the high
visibility of Cross River State in national affairs.
Since 2002, when she discovered her HIV status, she has almost
single-handedly run the only support group in the state, provid-
ing the needed lifeline for the 40-member organisation. A gradu-
ate of Public Administration from the University of Calabar,
Esse is currently on national service, working with the state
HIV/AIDS programme team.
Adegboye, 45, won the Heroes Award for Stigma Fighters. The
award honours an individual or community who have contributed
significantly to drawing attention and to reduce HIV- related
sigma and discrimination in Nigeria. His emergence as winner of
the prize was not surprising. Adegboye has been in the news for
the better part of this year, based on his experiences with au-
thorities of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), which
denied him admission apparently based on his HIV status.
The news of his recall to the NIJ that once shut its door
against him, is positive precedence that the fight against HIV-
related stigma could be won.
Not a few people at the awards night commended the judges'
choice of Adegboye for the award. "Adegboye truly deserved the
awards", observed Sina Falana, Country Coordinator, SMART-
Work/AED. "His experience is a test case on AIDS related stigma
and discrimination and for his efforts, I'm sure companies and
institutions in the country would think twice before stigmatis-
ing or discriminating against any one based on his HIV positive
Declan Opalaeke, Deputy Editor In Chief, Insider Weekly and
three-time winner of the CNN African Journalist of the Year
award said the honour is a reward for rare display of courage in
the face of adversity.
"Adegboye has rare courage and determination. He knows his right
and fought for it, damning the consequences. The way he con-
fronted the situation, showed some doggedness that is not common
around especially for a person living with HIV".
Also honoured in the same categories were the Positive Life As-
sociation of Nigeria (PLAN), based in Ibadan, Osun State, and
the Women's Health Education and Development (WHED), based in
Abuja. Both won the organizational prizes for the Breakers of
Silence Award and the Heroes Awards for Stigma Fighters.
WHED was honoured for daring to provide listening ears and a
caring heart to one of society's most ignored stigmatised
groups: commercial sex workers. WHED's sex work programmes tar-
gets commercial sex workers and their clients, using them as
catalyst for prevention of HIV and STIs. Their work also pro-
vides economic development alternatives for sex workers as a
means of improving their earning power.
PLAN was honoured for its commitment towards the fight against
stigmatisation. In less than four years of coming on the scene,
PLAN has demonstrated that protection of the rights of positive
persons remains the best form of empowerment, care and support.
This philosophy informed the group's attitude earlier this year,
when one of its members had his admission to a journalism insti-
tute withdrawn based on his HIV positive status.
In the media category of the awards, Ronke Olawale of The Guard-
ian won the award for Best Individual Reporting (Newspaper). A
doctoral student in Literature at the University of Lagos, Ola-
wale who is also a winner of the Nigerian Media Merit Award
(NMMA) beat Sebastian Ebhuowhan and Vincent Mbadiwe of Daily In-
dependent and News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) respectively to
clinch the award.
Victor Emeruwa of Insider Weekly won as Best Reporter in the
magazine category, while Ndubuisi Ikpeagha of Capital FM, Abuja
won in the radio category.
Femi Kolawole of The Week magazine maintained his grip on the
award for Best Reporting on Stigma and Discrimination (Print)
which he won in the 2003 edition of the awards. Henry Ekechukwu
of Africa Independent Television (AIT) won the broadcast cate-
gory of the Stigma and Discrimination reporting prize.
Multi-award winning cartoonist, Wilson Akwaowo of The Punch met
a stiff opposition in Femi Arowolo of the Vanguard newspapers
who won the award for Best Individual Cartooning on HIV/AIDS.
The award for Best Informed Commentary went to Sola Ogundipe,
who is Health Editor for Vanguard newspapers.
For Nena Ike and her organisation, New Age newspapers, it was a
repeat of the 2003 feat as she won the award for Best Reporting
on Science of HIV/AIDS while New Age won the award for Out-
standing Media Coverage.
The award for Outstanding Media Coverage honours media organisa-
tions that have demonstrated outstanding commitment in their or-
ganisational response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Though only
about two years in the media market, New Age has consistently
demonstrated its commitment to visibilizing HIV/AIDS in the me-
dia. Apart from devoting weekly pages to HIV reporting, the
newspaper gives the largest number of space to HIV coverage,
spanning special reports, front page stories, feature articles
and a weekly column written by a HIV-positive person.
For the prize for Best Editorial Writing, the Sunday Champion
beat The Guardian. Its editorial of June 20 2004 titled "AIDS
denial in Cross River State" won the hearts of judging panel,
who found it particularly responsive and incisive.
Bimbo Amosun of Eko FM, Lagos and Godwin Odemijie of Radio Nige-
ria, Abuja stole the show in radio category as they both went
home with laptop computers. They won the awards for Best Radio
Feature on HIV/AIDS and Best Radio Talk Show on HIV/AIDS respec-
The climax of the awards night was the announcement of the win-
ners of the Best Practices prizes. The prizes, each with a grant
of $1000 for grabs, courtesy of the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS
in Nigeria, were for the Best Practices in Community Response
and Faith-Based Response to HIV/AIDS.
The Best Practice for Faith-Based Response was a straight race
between Diocesan Action Committee on HIV/AIDS (DACA), Enugu; the
Redeemed Action Programme on AIDS Control (RAPAC), and the In-
terfaith Coalition on HIV/AIDS.
DACA won. Since it was established in 2001 under the leadership
of the Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese, DACA has made stigma
reduction a major area of focus. Aside running live TV and Radio
programmes on HIV/AIDS, co-anchored by positive persons, DACA
has made pulpits in parishes under the diocese available to
positive persons to disseminate HIV/AIDS messages regularly.
In the case of Best Practice for Community Response, the three
nominees were the Plateau State chapter of the Society for Women
and AIDS in Africa (Nigeria); Living Hope Care, Ilesa, Osun
State; and Educare Trust, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Living Hope Care won. Founded in April 1994, Living Hope Care
runs HIV/AIDSD counselling, prevention, treatment and care pro-
grammes for over 30 communities spread over about eight local
government areas in Osun State. Its programmes are widely-
accepted within these communities, and enjoy the support of
leading traditional rulers and community leaders in the areas.
It has reached over 1000 positive people in the communities.
Aside winning a $1000 grant, each of the Best Practice winners
will have their success stories documented and published.
No less than 55 entries were received for this year's awards for
the media categories. Out of the 25 categories initially adver-
tised, seven did not produce winners because judges did not find
the entries competitive.
Dr. Shuaibu Hussein, Director of the FRCN Training School, who
spoke on behalf o the judges, commended all winners and en-
trants, noting that the heightened enthusiasm for this year's
awards suggested increased awareness by media professional of
their roles in mobilising popular action against the epidemic.
He noted that some entries were submitted under wrong categories
or classifications, while many of the entries submitted for the
radio prizes had poor sound quality.
"Many reports include commendable focus on people living with
HIV, but there were several cases of statistics not credited to
any source, which reduces credibility and authenticity", he
The criteria for selection of winners include: appropriate use
of language, focus on people living with HIV, relevance to the
Nigerian situation, balance, accuracy, evidence of research, in-
vestigative depth and diversity of focus.
Each of the winners got a plaque, certificate and a cash prize
of 50,000 naira, except for the winners in the radio categories
who got laptop computers or mini-discs.
The event was co-compered by popular radio personality Dan Fos-
ter of Cool FM, and Ms. Rolake Odetoyinbo Nwagwu, Nigeria's
first openly-positive newspaper columnist.
Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Chairman, National Action Com-
mittee, (NACA), led the retinue of special guests at the occa-
sion, which included, Mr. Halilu Dantiye (president of the Nige-
ria Guild of Editors), Dr Pierre M'Pele (UNAIDS Country Coordi-
nator), Mrs. Toro Oladapo (chairperson of the National Associa-
tion of Women Journalists), Ms. Atim Eneida George (Director, US
Public Affairs Section), journalism teacher, Professor Ralph Ak-
infeleye, and Dr. Akinsete, who represented the Minster of
Mr. Omololu Falobi, CEO of Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS),
organisers of the annual awards programme, commended the process
for the 2004 awards, which he said included a stronger govern-
ance system, involvement of stakeholders right from design; and
setting up of an independent Advisory Board.
"In December 2005, the world comes to Abuja, as Nigeria hosts
the 14th International Conference on AIDS in Africa (the ICASA),
he reminded the audience. The 5th Red Ribbon Awards will hold in
Abuja on December 3 2005, at the start of the ICASA.
Nigeria needs to double up on her strides against HIV/AIDS, he
said, "so that we can show the rest of Africa what success sto-
ries we have chalked up against the virus".
Sponsors of this year's awards include: the National Action Com-
mittee on AIDS (NACA); the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in Nige-
ria; Internews 'Local Voices' project; USAID's CommunityREACH
project; the Ford Foundation; the 'Make We Talk' programme; and
the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).
More information about winners, nominees, partners and full re-
port of the panel of judges are available at
Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria