True Story AwardSwitzerland
August - September
Pro Helvetia Johannesburg is supporting the attendance of three writers from Africa at the True Story Award and public Reports Festival in Bern, Switzerland from 31 August to 2 September 2019.
The True Story Award is the first global journalism prize. Its aim is to make reporters’ voices known beyond the borders of their home countries, and in doing so to increase the diversity of perspectives offered in the media. The central idea of the prize is to supplement and broaden the predominantly Western view of the world with other perspectives. Due to the nature of media coverage, readers in North America and Europe have a view of the world different to those in the Arab world, Africa and Asia. The prize encourages the broadening of our field of vision through the voices of reporters from different countries. The True Story Award has no editorial, economic or ideological agenda. It simply hopes to recognise first-class journalism. The winner will be selected by an independent jury and receive 30 000 Swiss francs in prize money.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Eve Fairbanks is an American writer living and working in Cape Town, South Africa. Her essays and long-form narratives appear in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Foreign Policy. She is currently writing a book about post-apartheid South Africa. Eve’s nomination for the True Story Awards is titled Dry, the Beloved Country and focuses on the Cape water crisis.
A historian of behavior during disasters, New York University’s Jacob Remes, told me that while “sudden” disasters—like hurricanes or earthquakes—prompt a brief upswell in feelings of community-mindedness, there’s not the same evidence for slower-moving catastrophes. And it’s predicted, he said, that the wealthy will try to “buy their way out of” any inconvenience. “When my students hear the word ‘commons,’ they think ‘Tragedy of,’” he said. What I described in Cape Town made him wonder if the higher classes weren’t waiting for a chance to demonstrate to their neighbors, and themselves, that “there really is such a thing as society.”
Amindeh Blaise Atabong is an investigative journalist based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Working across print and broadcast media, he has reported on many groundbreaking stories that focus on socio-political, cultural and economic life in Cameroon. He regularly writes for Quartz Africa. Amindeh’s nomination for the True Story Award is titled Inside “Ambazonia”, and focuses on the drawn-out conflict engulfing the Cameroon’s English-speaking regions.
It is a bright Friday afternoon at the Buea Regional Hospital Mortuary. The sweet Buea Mountain breeze gently blows through the courtyard of the morgue. The blazing sunshine is lighting up the picturesque narrow street that leads to the morgue but the atmosphere looks gloomy. The turnout in hundreds that usually characterises removal of corpses in this mortuary on Friday is absent. But that doesn’t suggest the morgue is empty or corpses will not be removed on that day. One of the morticians tells me that both compartments of the mortuary are full beyond capacity.
Nuruddin Farah is a Somali writer and son of well-known poet Aleeli Faduma. Writing in English, his work has reached an international audience and focuses on themes of exile, feminism and the abuse of power. He is regarded as one of Africa’s most important contemporary writers and has published an award-winning volume of reports on Somali refugees in Africa and a cycle of novels about his Somali homeland, which he concluded with his 2013 novel Gekapert. Today Farah lives in Cape Town. He is part of the main Jury for the True Story Award.