MFWA’s independent journalism project named in 10 best investigative stories from sub-Saharan Africa in 2021

An investigative report by Media Foundation for West Africa’s (MFWA) independent journalism project, The Fourth Estate, has been named among the best investigative reports in sub-Saharan Africa for 2021.

This comes barely a year when the MFWA established the non-profit, independent investigative journalism project.

The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), an international hub for the world’s investigative reporters, named the “The Licensed sex predator, an investigative piece by The Fourth Estate’s Editor-in-Chief, Manasseh Azure Awuni, among the top 10 best investigative stories from the continent.

The ten stories that made the list were selected from eight countries—Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Liberia and Uganda.

“This collection of 10 investigative stories across eight countries in Africa is a demonstration of what’s possible when reporters on the continent receive the right leadership and support,” the GIJN wrote.

In an investigation that lasted over a year, The Fourth Estate revealed how been sexually assaulted by a self-styled physiotherapist, “Dr” Jonathan Ohene Nkunim in his Nature’s Hand Therapeutic Centre.

“Dr” Ohene Nkunim’s victims included a couple who had gone to Nature’s Hand Therapeutic Centre, Gbawe, Accra in 2018 to seek his help to be able to conceive. He ended up sleeping with the woman. Feeling guilty about the affair, she confessed to her husband and that was how the seven-year-old marriage ended.

A young woman was on the verge of suicide because the heart-wrenching pain from her spinal cord convinced her that ending her life was a better option. Someone offered her a lifeline, Jonathan Ohene Nkunim’s hotline.

Ohene Nkunim raped her the first day she entered the facility in pain and lay on the massage bed.

He left incriminating evidence in his WhatsApp conversation with her after the ordeal. He admitted he did not seek her permission before having sex with her.

Nkunim claimed the procedure he wanted to perform required sexual arousal. He said he should have “sensitised” her before proceeding.  Nkunim then apologised profusely. But he did not stop.

Eulogising the story, the GIJN said:

“Ghana’s latest investigative journalism nonprofit, The Fourth Estate, created by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), was the force behind one of the most consequential investigations to come out of Africa this past year.

“Braving harrowing testimonies from victims and disturbing evidence from an undercover investigation, reporter Manasseh Azure Awuni exposed a health practitioner who used his registered practice to sexually assault women seeking reproductive treatment and support. The three-part series is one of those instances where an undercover investigation provides irrefutable evidence, despite denials by the perpetrator.

“Eventually, the overwhelming proof against that proprietor led to his arrest and confession, putting to an end to his exploitation of desperate victims.”

The GIJN described as “remarkable” the level of investigative journalism that emerged from sub-Saharan Africa in 2021 particularly at a time newsrooms in Africa were increasingly struggling with shortages of cash and threats to press freedom.

“For many of the eye-catching stories that made it to this year’s editor’s pick, the reporting time ranged from three months to a full year. This points to a growing ability by journalists in Africa to dedicate ample time — and, indeed, resources — to a single story,” it said.

But there is more to it.

“Several factors account for this strong dedication to in-depth reporting. First, nonprofit media outlets are helping fill the vacuum created by cash and resource-strapped traditional media organizations. Foundations and development agencies are also offering more consistent and more generous reporting grants, with greater opportunities for long-form investigations, even for freelance journalists,” it explained.

About The Fourth Estate project

The MFWA launched The Fourth Estate in 2021 as a non-profit, independent investigative journalism project.

The project emerged out of about three years of planning and brainstorming and is a response to the dearth of critical, analytical, in-depth, and independent journalism in Ghana and in many countries in West Africa.

The Fourth Estate project was established to focus on asserting the watchdog role of the media to promote transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption in governance through independent, fact-based journalism

The project prioritises quality investigative and in-depth reporting in the areas of governance, environment (especially climate change issues and the extractives sector), health, and human rights.

Read more about The Fourth Estate here.

Bicentennial of the Arrival of the First Free Black Americans to Providence Island, Liberia

Two hundred years ago today, a group of free Black men, women, and children from the United States established a settlement on Providence Island in what would become the city of Monrovia and, in 1847, the Republic of Liberia. Today, the United States joins the Republic of Liberia in commemorating this bicentennial. As two of the oldest continuous republics in the world, the United States and Liberia share a unique history paired with common democratic values. We recognize our common roots and the historical significance of the arrival of these free Black Americans in 1822.

Over the course of the 19th century, roughly 16,000 Black Americans immigrated from the United States to Liberia with the support of the American Colonization Society, joining thousands of resettled Africans rescued and freed from the slave trade by the U.S. Navy. We acknowledge the racist nature of the American Colonization Society and that slavery continued in parts of America for more than 40 years after the arrival of the first Black Americans to Liberia. Racism and oppression motivated many freed Black Americans to look for freedom and equality overseas. That struggle for equality continues to this day.

Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia is a stable democracy in West Africa and an important partner of the United States. In commemorating the bicentennial of the arrival of American settlers, we also recognize the ethnic and cultural diversity of Liberia’s indigenous population, one that long predates the arrival of American immigrants, and celebrate the contributions of all Liberians in making the country what it is today.

Source: U.S Department of State

Case of African swine fever reported in northern Italy

ROME, A case of African swine fever has been detected in a wild boar in Italy, news agency ANSA said Friday, raising fears of a blow to the country’s meat industry.

Highly transmissible and fatal for pig populations, African swine fever (ASF) does not present a risk for human health, but risks serious repercussions for pork producers.

Italy, with about 8.9 million pigs, is the seventh biggest pork producer in the European Union, representing an 8 billion euro ($9.1 billion) industry, according to the agricultural association Confagricoltura.

ANSA said the case of the viral disease was detected after tests on the carcass of a wild boar in Ovada in the northern Piedmont region.

The regional research body reported to have carried out the tests could not be reached for confirmation later on Friday.

African swine fever has existed in Africa for decades.

In Italy, it has been endemic on the island of Sardinia since first appearing in 1978.

The disease spread to China — the world’s largest pork producer — in 2018, causing millions of pigs to be slaughtered to prevent an epidemic.

In western Europe, the virus was reported in Belgium in 2018, prompting China to ban all imports of Belgian pork.

After Germany confirmed its first case in a dead wild boar in 2020, China, Japan and South Korea, alongside Brazil and Argentina, also suspended German pork imports.

ANSA said the case in Italy had been referred to Italy’s health ministry, which in turn would notify the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) and the European Commission.

In a Dec 3 situation report on the virus, the OIE said ASF has been reported in 32 countries in five different world regions since January 2020.

It has affected more than one million pigs and more than 28,000 wild boar around the world.

The events observed in the last six months confirm the global threat of ASF, which continues to spread with serious impacts on pig production systems, animal health and welfare, as well as the socio-economic impacts on

livelihoods, national food security and international trade,” the report said.

After Germany’s first case, Confagricoltura said Italy had activated a plan of surveillance and prevention approved by the European Commission since the beginning of 2020.


Egypt Deports Son Of Prominent Palestinian Politician

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities deported the son of a prominent Palestinian politician after he served 2 1/2 years of pre-trial detention over allegations of having ties with an outlawed group, his family said Saturday.

Ramy Shaath, son of Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was released Thursday and then deported, the family said in a statement. He was forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship to gain his freedom, it said.

The family said Egyptian authorities handed Ramy Shaath over to a representative of the Palestinian Authority at Cairo international airport, where he boarded a flight to the Jordanian capital of Amman.

He then boarded another flight Saturday to Paris, where his wife, Celine Lebrun Shaath, a French national, lives, the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from the Egyptian government.

Ramy Shaath was arrested in July 2019 at his home in Cairo and accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government designated as a terrorist organization in 2013.

A dual Palestinian-Egyptian national, he was added to a case that included a former lawmaker and key secular activists. They had been arrested about a month before Shaath and accused of collaborating with wanted Brotherhood members in Turkey to plot violence and riots.

Last year, he was added to the country’s terrorist list.

Ramy Shaath helped establish Egypt’s branch of the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel, known as BDS.

The family statement said Egyptian authorities forced him to renounce his citizenship as a “precondition for his release.”

“No one should have to choose between their freedom and their citizenship. Ramy was born Egyptian … . No coerced renunciation of citizenship under duress will ever change that,” the statement read.

Source: Voice of America