The BBC has announced Nigerian business journalist Didi Akinyelure as the winner of its Komla Dumor Award for the year 2016. The award is presented to journalists living and working in Africa who display exceptional talent and passion in bringing a more accurate picture of Africa to the world through their journalism.
Ms Akinyelure, who is a presenter with CNBC Africa, says she did not start off as a journalist but became one after pitching a documentary on real estate in Nigeria on the business channel. She had studied Engineering at university, and was an investment banker until 2013 when she began to work for CNBC. According to her, she initially intended to do the documentary because of her love for real estate investment and had no interest in becoming a full-time TV presenter. She also spoke of Komla, the late BBC journalist after whom the prize she was awarded is named, as an inspiration.
“He changed the way that the African story was told internationally’ she said. “I connected with him because I heard that he was also an accidental journalist”.
Ms Akinyelure told the BBC in an interview that she was also driven by a desire to portray Africa in a way that mirrors reality.
“I hated the way the international community portrayed Africa. It’s changing, but it hasn’t completely changed, and I want to play a part in that. In Nigeria, we have over 180 million people, and each one of them has interesting stories to tell.”
Komla Dumor was a presenter for BBC News until 2014 when he died suddenly. The Komla Dumor Award was instituted by the BBC in honour of the late Ghanaian journalist to recognize outstanding work done by talented African journalists.
As winner of this year’s award, Ms Akinyelure will be working with the BBC news team for three months, starting in September.