The Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling


Dorcas Wangira at the Michael Elliott Award 2019 ceremony. In her speech, she said she will only stop telling stories about female genital mutilation the day it stops.

The Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling, a collaboration between the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the ONE Campaign, and the Elliott family, honors up-and-coming journalists in Africa who strives to strengthen people's voices and illuminate the transformational change taking place on the continent.

Thanks to the award’s many donors and the generous support of The Economist, ICFJ is pleased to honor two award winners in 2022 who published groundbreaking journalistic work between December 1, 2020 and December 1, 2021. Entries were selected on the quality of the piece and the impact their work has had in communities. We welcomed excellent submissions in all media, especially those that demonstrate analytical skills in addition to outstanding writing ability. We especially encouraged the stories that highlight the transformational change in Africa.

The winners will receive a cash prize, a $1,000 reporting grant, and a personalized crystal award. The winners will complete a two-week internship at The Economist's headquarters in London, United Kingdom.

Applications for the 2023 cycle will open in late 2022.

About the Award

The Award was established in honor of Michael Elliott, an outstanding editor, philanthropist, and former ICFJ director, whose life was a testament to the power of storytelling to bear witness to and improve the human condition. Elliott served as a distinguished editor at The Economist, Newsweek, and Time before becoming CEO of ONE. In 2016, he had spoken of his dream to establish an award that would bring together his belief in great journalism with his commitment to progress in Africa. This prestigious annual award honors emerging journalists in Africa who strive to strengthen people's voices and illuminate the transformational change taking place on the continent. 

Past award winners include Mercy Juma and Dorcas Wangira of Kenya; Kiki Mordi, Abubakar Ibrahim, and Zainab Bala from Nigeria; and Bernadette Vivuya from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each was awarded a $5,000 cash prize. Wangira's award-winning story, “The App and The Cut,” covered the harm caused by female genital mutilation and the hope offered by five high school girls who invented an app to connect vulnerable girls with resources and rescue centers. Juma's story, “Teen Mums of Kwale,” tells of primary school girls whose families make the controversial choice to let them use contraceptives even though the practice is taboo in the Muslim communities of Kenya’s Kwale County. Ibrahim's piece, "All That Was Familiar," chronicles the struggle of two women --one from Cameroon and one from Nigeria -- to find their loved ones who have been internally displaced by Boko Haram's insurgency. Mordi’s story, “Sex for Grades,” exposes sexual harassment in African universities. Read more about Mordi, the 2020 award winner, here, and Bala and Vivuya, the 2021 award winners, here. Read more about Khalid Bencherif and Nalova Akua, the 2022 award winners, here

On September 22, 2022, Khalid Bencherif and Nalova Akua participated in a virtual award presentation held at The Economist's headquarters in London. The winners' award remarks are below.