Rose Wangui Accepts ICFJ's Knight International Journalism Award

Thank you very much. Good evening!

Today as I stand here before you, some of the most respected journalists, I couldn’t be more humbled. This is a truly touching and special moment.

I am greatly honored to receive this award from the International Centre for Journalists. And I would like to thank the ICFJ for recognizing my work.

I also want to congratulate my fellow journalists who are being awarded tonight, for their incredible contributions. You have made the world a better place through your reporting.

I am glad that my employer, the Nation Media Group, has received this global recognition. For a company that supports its journalists by giving them an environment conducive to professional growth, this too is a special moment. I extend my sincere gratitude to my editors and colleagues at NTV for being my foot soldiers and my pillars of strength in bringing to the fore the many special stories.

Finally, I want to thank my family for supporting my dream to become a journalist…It is through your support that my dream has come true.

Each time I tell a story, I try to ensure that every word that I write airs the hopes and dreams of those people in the villages, towns and slums, who may never have the opportunity that I have to reach a bigger audience.

It is these people who inspire me to keep going, despite the challenges and obstacles along the way.

The ability to give a voice to someone who has almost given up hope of ever getting justice is what drives me to do stories that have an impact. 

For over 12 years, I have been instrumental in shedding light on the untold stories that have later changed people's lives.

The stories that I have produced related to children, youth, women, gender and social justice have elicited positive responses from the public and have influenced government policy.

Isn’t that what the media is supposed to be all about? Expanding the discussion space by generating debate on issues that affect us?

I’ve been blown away by the power journalism can have and the monumental difference my work can sometimes make –

  • from the construction of a rescue centre to protect girls from retrogressive cultural practices such as female genital mutilation
  • to the government coming up with better laws to protect Kenyan migrant workers
  • to a new government policy to recognize intersex persons in the national census for the first time.

I thank God for giving me the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.

As I move forward, I am concerned that many journalists and media organizations focus mainly on politics and shy away from development stories, particularly those on health and social justice. Journalists should strive to tell stories that change people’s perceptions and make society better. Media houses should also try and allocate more resources for investigative journalism.

We have a duty to shine a light into the deepest recesses of the human experience and provide a mirror for society to examine itself.

I want to dedicate this award to all the lives I have been able to touch in a positive way. And to all the journalists who are always out there in the field, 

  • most of them going to the trenches to get stories, 
  • inhaling tear gas, 
  • sleeping in hostile places… just to tell stories and make the world a better place. 
  • This is for you.

Journalism is my passion. This is what gives me purpose in life, and I would never even remotely consider giving that up.

Thank you all. And thank you ICFJ for this award!!