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Gwen Lister to speak at tonight's Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Awards

Gwen Lister - Namibian journalist, publisher, apartheid opponent and press freedom activist - will tonight, Tuesday, 10 May 2011, at the 10th annual Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Awards reflect upon the 20 years since the signing of the Windhoek Declaration on promoting an independent African press and share her thoughts on the ongoing fight for media freedom.
Gwen Lister to speak at tonight's Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Awards

Mondi Shanduka Newsprint and the Newspaper Association of South Africa will play host to a number of prominent individuals in the newspaper journalism and media fraternities, and honour the unsung heroes of newspaper journalism, at Johannesburg's Turbine Hall as they commemorate World Press Freedom Day, which took place last week.

To be announced are the mainstream category winners, the South African Story of the Year, the South African Newspaper Journalist of the Year and the winners of the Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement and a Special Achievement awards. In addition, the winners of the Newspaper Publishing Awards and the 2011 Print Media Fellow will be announced. (View the list of finalists.)

Profile of Lister

Lister helped establish the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and was among the International Press Institute's 50 Heroes of World Press Freedom laureates in 2000, an award that puts her on par with journalistic heavyweights such as Rudolf Augstein and Anna Politkovskaya. In 2004, she received the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation.

The first edition of her independent paper, The Namibian, was published in August 1985. From the outset, it was the only paper in the country to expose the ongoing atrocities and human rights violations against Namibians at the hands of the South African security forces.

As editor, Lister was detained for several days while four months pregnant and was confined to the Windhoek magisterial district. Her passport was confiscated and she was required to report to the police station several times a week. The authorities wanted to know the source of a published document that proposed sweeping new powers for police in Namibia.

Continued its watchdog role

When Namibia finally became independent in 1990, The Namibian continued its watchdog role with the new government of the South West African People's Organisation. Lister's newspaper has successfully made the transition from donor dependency to financial self-sufficiency 10 years after independence from SA rule.

The paper continues to maintain its fiercely independent editorial stance, despite the initial goodwill toward the press having been replaced by growing tension between President Sam Nujoma's government and the independent media.

Prof Guy Berger, the convenor of the competition's judging panel, will share his thoughts on the state of newspaper journalism in SA and will provide feedback on the judging process.


Berger rallied the experience and expertise of Pippa Green, Jodi Bieber, Joe Latakgomo, Tyrone August, David Wightman, Juby Mayet, Liesl Louw, Mathatha Tsedu, Tumi Makgabo, Paula Fray, Peter Sullivan, Mike Siluma, Adrienne Sichel and Arrie Rossouw.

Mondi Shanduka Newsprint CEO Ahmed Haffejee, and Print Media South Africa (PMSA) president Prakash Desai will also be on the part of the line-up this evening.

Leanne Manas will be the evening's host, with comedian Krijay Govender providing some lighter relief during the event.

Follow @MondiShanduka on Twitter. The official hashtag for tonight is #MSNA2011.

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