Story By: Ruben Kwabla Amenyedor
“I must prefer the noisy, posteriors, sometimes callous media of today to the monotonous praise singing, sycophantic of yester-years.” Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo retorted to the silent questions on the minds of many journalists as they anxiously wait for his address at the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony & Gala Dinner.
He was the Special Guest of Honor at the just ended UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Prize Ceremony held in the Aldon Ballroom conference hall, Kempinski hotel in Accra, Ghana.
Arrived amidst of traditional drumming and dancing, the President was welcomed by over five hundred journalists and delegates across the world. The ceremony began at about 7:30pm after his arrival.
The purpose of the Dinner Night was to award deserving journalists who carry out their responsibilities tirelessly, regardless of the challenges that come along with the profession across the world.
Addressing all those present, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo described the Ghanaian media as being helpful as it enriched the nation’s governance by its curiosity, investigative skills and persistent. He further encouraged all countries to promote the freedom of the press as this forms part of a country’s democracy.
Prior to the president’s address was a speech by the Ambassador of Columbia to Ghana, Miss Claudia Turbay Quintero. She stated that Journalism is a profession that is glued to her heart because she comes from a family of journalists. She expressed concern about the profession and she encouraged participants to continue with their good works.
The deputy director of UNESCO, Mr. Getachew Engida also expressed appreciation to the Press of Ghana indicating clearly how the press has helped in nation building. He dedicated this year’s Press Awards to Mahmoud Abu Zeid popularly known as Shawkan.
Shawkan, a photojournalist, has been in jail since 14th August 2013 when he was arrested while covering a demonstration at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo.
In early 2017, the prosecutor in his case reportedly called for the death penalty. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has qualified his arrest and detention as arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Meanwhile,Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid has been selected by an independent international jury of media professionals as the laureate of the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize..
“The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” said Maria Ressa, President of the Jury in a video which was shown at the awards ceremony. The prestigious award was placed beside his artwork since he is still in prison and could not make it in person to the function.