The Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling


Applications for the 2020 cycle are now open. Apply now!

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 an up-and-coming journalist in Africa who strives to strengthen people's voices and illuminate the transformational change taking place on the continent. We are seeking a wide variety of topics, not limited to health and social issues, to demonstrate the creative approaches to pressing issues in Africa.

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. 


“The study tour and internship have made me more aware of my responsibility and potential.”

Dorcas Wangira, 2019 Michael Elliott Award Winner (Kenya)


Past award winners include Mercy Juma and Dorcas Wangira of Kenya, and Abubakar Ibrahim from Nigeria. Juma's award-winning 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. Wangira's “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.

About the Award

This prestigious annual award honors an emerging journalist in Africa who strives to strengthen people's voices and illuminate the transformational change taking place on the continent. In a special study tour organized by ICFJ, the winner will spend time in U.S. newsrooms in Washington, D.C. and New York City to learn new skills and share knowledge. The winner also completes a two-week internship at The Economist's headquarters in London, United Kingdom.

To take full advantage of the tour and the internship, applicants must speak English, even if they work in another language. The winner also receives a US$5,000 cash prize. 

ICFJ is now accepting entries for the 2020 award. Apply here.


  • The contest is open to English-speaking journalists working in Africa for print, broadcast and online news media. Applicants must have no more than 10 years of journalism experience.
  • Applicants must submit one published piece that uses top-notch reporting to capture stories of modern Africa. The submission can be a feature story; an in-depth, investigative or explanatory piece; or a multimedia report or documentary.
  • A copy of the published story or broadcast clip must be submitted in English. Works in other languages must include English translations.
  • The submitted story must have been published between Dec. 1, 2018, and Dec. 1, 2019. 

A distinguished international jury selects the winner.