LAUSANNE, January 24, 2019 – ‘The winner of the special Award for investigative journalist is: Mr Anas Aremeyaw Anas,’ announces the master of ceremonies at the AIPS Sport Media Awards.
Thunderous applause fills the Sandoz Ballroom at the Beau Rivage Palace, the red carpet is unrolled, the spotlight turned toward the stage where the winner must appear with photographers poised to capture this moment.
The price is special. It rewards one committed to the future of the profession. “Investigative journalism is the future of our profession,” says AIPS president Gianni Merlo in introducing the award.
Out onto the stage steps the winner in a traditional African red outfit. But the face of Anas Aremeyaw Anas is hidden behind a curtained mask. The typical African hat is fringed with white pearls that fall beyond his chin. But this is no fashion statement: the mask prevents him from being recognized.
Anas explains: “What you see is a symbol of security for us. Journalism is a hot profession. My kind of journalism is very risky. As journalists, we have to be prepared for something to happen. We have to take strategic action to prevent it.”
The Ghanaian investigative journalist has received repeatedly death threats. He has survived. But that blessing was not visited upon colleague and compatriot Ahmed Hussein. The latter had been murdered a week ago for being a investigative journalist who exposes the evils of society to make it better.
Anas says: “I receive this award in honour of my colleague, Ahmed. I know he would have been here with me to receive this trophy if not for this incident.”
He is affected by the lost of his colleague with whom he investigated most recently corruption in Ghanaian football but Anas remains more determined than ever.
He is also convinced that the work has impact, saying: “My job is about results. I think that clearly, if the work we are doing doesn’t touch sensitivities then nobody would want to even touch you or do anything. There are clearly two forces in society, devil forces and good forces. As you try to do too good, the devil tries to stop you. So for me it’s a signal that we are doing something that they don’t like.”
Anas’s courage has been hailed by former United States President Barack Obama among others as he challenges society’s problems in Africa. He says: “The problem we have is an extreme disease. When you face an extreme disease, you need extreme solutions.”
Anas sees himself as one of those solutions. He says: “When I take my camera, I know exactly who to take, that the bad guy goes to jail.”
No target us safe. A documentary entitled ‘Enemies of the nation’ denounces corruption among officers in Ghana; ‘Spirit Child’ deals with infanticide in Ghana and Burkina Faso; ‘Spell of the albino’ brought to light the murders of albino people in Tanzania.
For Anas, it is all about a choice. He says: “We are building democratic governance across the continent. Our job is that simple, to keep people accountatable. To let people answer.”
This accountability does not spare sports leaders either. Anas and his Tiger Eye team, In their latest video which earned him the AIPS award, infiltrates the mafia of matchfixing in Ghana.
The documentary shows him behind the scenes, in the offices and salons where the results of matches are decided before kick-off. A penalty whistled for no reason in a match between two local clubs to ensures the victory of the one. Separately, the match referee receives 500 dollars, representing the remainder of the sum which had been promised to him by the winning team.
So Anas continues his work, despite the daily dangers of this “unconventional journalism.”
As the man in the mask says: “We are resolved to continue pushing the frontiers of our democratic governance. We are resolved to standing against human life abuses within our continent.”