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Nigerian journalist Kiki Mordi wins 2020 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling


Congratulations to Nigerian journalist Kiki Mordi for winning the 2020 Michael Elliott Award for African Storytelling! Of the 184 award applicants, Mordi was selected by a distinguished panel of judges for her documentary, “Sex for Grades.”

The winning documentary

The winning documentary originally ran on BBC Africa in October 2019 and follows Mordi as she went undercover to uncover the sexual harassment that students at universities in Nigeria and Ghana are facing.

Her work is the culmination of a nine-month long investigation that resulted in a number of lecturers being suspended and featured Mordi sharing her own story as a victim of sexual abuse. Her documentary was influential in sparking the #MeToo movement in Africa, as well.

Other accolades Mordi has received include the 2020 People Journalism Prize for Africa and a nomination for a 2020 International Emmy.

About the award

Established in 2016 in partnership with ONE and the Elliott family, the Michael Elliott Award is awarded by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) to honor the memory and legacy of Michael Elliott. Elliott was an editor at Newsweek, Time, and The Economist, and then became the CEO of ONE. As Michael was committed to the power of storytelling in improving the human condition, the namesake award is given to an emerging journalist covering Africa who is improving people’s well-being and uplifting their voices. The award is designed to help advance their work.

“We congratulate this year’s winner, Kiki Mordi, for her courageous and influential work,” Elliott’s widow, Emma Oxford, said.

“Mordi’s work demonstrates extreme courage, tenacity, investigative ability and the patience needed to tell such a complex story with undeniable evidence,” Dorcas Wangira, a Kenyan journalist and last year’s winner, added. “It is Africa’s answer to #MeToo.”

Previous winners include Nigerian journalist Abubakar Ibrahim and Kenyan journalist Mercy Juma, and this year’s runner up was Mahmoud Elwakea from Egypt for his multimedia story “Made in Prison” that focused on three geneartions of jihadists in Egyptian prisons.

As part of Mordi’s award, she will begin a custom immersion program to help further her professional development through the learning of new skills from mentors in the field and sharing knowledge with other journalists, and she will receive a cash prize.

The international panel that selected Mordi was chaired by the outgoing executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, Norman Pearlstine and:

  • Joyce Barnathan, the president of the ICFJ
  • Emma Oxford, the author of At Least We Lived
  • Lionel Barber, the former editor of the Financial Times
  • Matthew Bishop, the former managing director of The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Kate Critchley, ONE’s executive director of communications and content
  • Dorcas Wangira, the 2019 Elliott award winner and a Kenyan journalist
  • Brigitte Perenyi, the 2019 award runner up and a documentary producer
  • Erik Charas, a member of ONE’s Africa Policy Advisory Board and the managing and founding director of Charas LDA
  • Rik Kirkland, a partner, Global publishing, McKinsey & Company

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