Agnes Nindorera | 2000 Courage in Journalism Award
Studio Ijambo, Burundi.
As a journalist and producer with independent Studio Ijambo, she had been threatened repeatedly by police and military officers. She has been arrested numerous times. Her home has been ransacked, her equipment confiscated by the government, and she has been forced to move to avoid harassment. In one frightening personal encounter, a high-level government official told Nindorera that she would be shot in the head if she continued to report the news. Undeterred, she continued her work, bringing the war to the world while maintaining the highest professional standards and journalistic integrity.
Nindorera pursued a story of a civil war in which 200,000 people- including 64 of her relatives- had died, caught in a conflict between Tutsi-dominated government forces and Hutu rebels. Her reports on human rights violations by all factions generated considerable international attention.
Filing stories each day for Voice of America and Agence France Presse, Nindorera brought the world objective accounts of peace negotiations, the progress of the conflict and, most important, the story of what the war was doing to the people of Burundi.
As a graduate of the Burundi School of Journalism and the Free University of Brussels, she started her journalism career in early 90s. She was head journalist for the social column, ‘The Renouveau du Burundi’ from 1991 to 1994. Meantime, she also worked as an educator for journalists from Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) through the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation – Economic Community of the Great Lakes. She also acted as the secretary general of the Burundian Association of journalists. Before joining Studio Ijambo, she launched a private weekly called ‘Le Phare’ (The Lighthouse), where she was editor-in-chief.
Nindorera didn’t believe the “ethnic” belonging had any importance, so she didn’t want to be categorized by one of the four communities in Burundi. “A good journalist is a professional one and does not believe that being member of such or such ‘ethnic’ group has something to do in the way you handle your job,” she said.
Agnes Nindorera is the first Courage in Journalism Award winner from Burundi.