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African Journalists Urged to Participate in Rome-Based Contest for Best Storytellers

Poster announcing the 9th Harambee Africa International Award that will focus on stories of resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

Rome-based Harambee Africa International (HAI) has launched its ninth International Prize dubbed “Communicating Africa”, with a specific call on storytellers on the African continent to come forward to tell their own stories in the global contest.

HAI Communications officer, Rossella Miranda, told ACI Africa that the competition would welcome entries from content creators from various nationalities but made a special appeal for Africans to enter the competition.

“The Competition is opened to all works, European or African,” Ms. Miranda told ACI Africa Wednesday, April 7, and added, “It would be great to give a Prize to an African entry and so let an African voice speak about Africa!”

The aim of the competition is to help create a more accurate image of Africa, “one that reflects the existing conflicts but also shows the reasons for hope,” the leadership of HAI has said.

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The competition is also aimed at creating awareness on the richness and diversity of the peoples of Africa, the continent’s cultures and its unwavering commitment to development.

Participants in the competition have also been called upon to shed a light on the needs of the continent, which the organization say “are still very real.”

In the April 7 interview with ACI Africa, Ms. Miranda said that one of HAI’s priorities is the desire to contribute to a deeper knowledge of African realities, “preferably through direct sources.”

The communications specialist said that away from Africa, the continent is talked about with a lot of “superficiality”, underscoring the need for Africans to tell their own stories with utmost depth.

“It is clear, therefore, that this competition also wants to be a way of telling the story of Africa through Africans especially in this period and in view of the theme chosen for this edition of the competition,” Ms. Miranda told ACI Africa.

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She added, “We would like to give voice to positive and constructive experiences in Africa, despite the global crisis we are experiencing. And what better way than to hope that it is Africans themselves who tell and tell their stories?”

She observed that in past editions held by HAI, the organization has always registered a fair amount of interest from African authors, especially young people particularly where that was a specific category aimed at them.

“The main challenge for this competition is precisely to receive positive, realistic but positive, stories. And this makes us realize that there is still a lot to be done to build a less stereotypical narrative on Africa,” the HAI communications officer told ACI Africa April 7.

The bottom-line of the competition, HAI leadership states, is to promote awareness of “a continent that is a treasure for the whole world.”

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Being organized under the theme, “Resilience in times of crisis, stories of courage in times of pandemic”, HAI’s ninth edition of the award is aimed at celebrating growth witnessed in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leadership of the organization, which initiates and supports development projects across the world states that although the numbers of the new Coronavirus infection are still lenient in Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic and social consequences of measures to stop the spread of the virus are dramatic, especially for the most vulnerable.

The leadership of the organization however notes that difficult moments have always provided an opportunity for growth and resilience.

“It is in a time of increased vulnerability that resilience processes are set in motion to resist and react to the crisis, turning it, if possible, into an opportunity for growth,” HAI leadership states in a statement announcing the launch the Prize, adding that its ninth edition award “wishes to help shed light on the greatness of small stories of resistance, solidarity and commitment for the good of the communities.”

“The goal is not to give a naive or simplistic view of Africa, but rather to show that, alongside wars and shortages, one also finds hope and the honest work of many individuals and organizations,” the organization says in its communique.

Harambee Africa International is derived from a Swahili word “Harambee” meaning “All Together,” which summarizes the organization’s goal, “all together to accompany a continent that has much to teach the world.”

The current prize targets video reportages and video documentaries made from March 2020 onwards that address ethnic, social, economic, health, cultural issues related to the COVID-19 health emergency.

In a set of rules governing the edition of the biennial competition, which was first held in 2004, competitors are to produce videos that must be no longer than 60 minutes.

Work is to be submitted in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. If the video is in another language, it should include subtitles in one of the five languages.

Organizers of the contest are inviting interested people to register online by logging in to www.harambee-africa.org

“Each participant must upload their own video to www.youtube.com, and then in the registration module, indicate the link address to view the video,” reads the rules in part.

Participants are also called upon to attach their personal information data including a certificate attesting to the authenticity and ownership of the work and an authorization of the copyright holder of the works presented that allows for the showing of the work during the Prize Award Ceremony.

The list of works admitted to the competition will be published in www.harambeeafrica.org (the website of Harambee Africa International).

The prize-giving ceremony will take place in December 2021 as permitted by the current health situation, the leadership of the organization says, adding that the date and the place will be communicated in advance on its website.

The submission deadline for the competition in which the winner will receive 1,000.00 Euros has been set for 30 September 2021.