By Wana Kalala
ART columnist Andrew Mulenga is among finalists for the 2012 CNN-MultiChoice African Journalist of the year award.
Mulenga - it appears in Zambia news is all
about politics; it's almostimpossible to get an
arts story on a front page or
as a lead item unless an artist has died
The 'Hole in the Wall' columnist is the only Zambian nominee among 34 finalists from 12 countries across the continent.
The finalists were announced last Friday by Ferial Haffajee, chairperson of the independent judging panel.
Mulenga, 38, has been writing weekly reviews, critiques and interviews in the column since 2004. He is also a member of the International Association of Art Critics and interim chairman for the Arterial Network Zambian Chapter, a continental network of creative practitioners.
Mulenga described the nomination as encouraging.
“When I got a call from the CNN’s London office, at first I thought it was a joke, but apparently the person on the other end of the phone line was dead serious,” he said.
“I must say I am thoroughly encouraged by the nomination. I think for your work to be recognised as quality material by an international panel means a lot. For me, getting this far is as good as winning. But of course I also feel I owe it to all the artists who give me something to write about, because if it weren’t for them, I would have nothing to write about.”
Mulenga said he would like to see more coverage of the arts in the Zambian media, both broadcast and print.
“It appears in Zambia news is all about politics; it's almost impossible to get an arts story on a front page or as a lead item unless an artist has died,” he said.
Mulenga's articles ‘In Mali, the Kora is no one-night stand, it requires commitment’, and ‘Libanga’ system: DRC’s phenomenon of commercialised praise-singing’ published in the Post Lifestyle last year, are both nominated for the awards.
According to a press release, the competition this year received entries from 42 countries from across Africa, the highest number in its 17-year history, and included French and Portuguese speaking Africa. Entries from South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya make the bulk of the finalists.
The awards ceremony will be held in Lusaka on July 21, and will be presented by CNN International NewsCenter host Isha Sesay and ZNBC's Franklin Tembo Jnr.
Finalists will undergo an all-expenses paid five-day programme of workshops, media forums, and networking has been set up for the finalists in the run-up to the award ceremony.
Tony Maddox, executive vice-president and managing director of CNN International said 2012 had seen a record number of entries for the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards from a diverse array of countries across the continent.
"The quality and excellence of the work submitted continues to rise year on year, ensuring that the 2012 competition maintains its place as the most prestigious Pan African Awards for journalists," said Maddox. - (Courtesy The Post Newspaper)