Fatal Blow To Science Journalism in Africa

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Uganda’s Luganda, Cameroon’s Njifakue die within 4 days

Science Journalism in Africa has received a double fatal blow with the passing of two seasoned African science journalists within a space of four days.

In the East, senior Ugandan science journalist and renowned communication consultant and trainer, Patrick Luganda, bowed to the cold hands of death from COVID-19 complications on December 16 at the Mulago National Referral hospital.

The news of Luganda’s passing was sequel to the death of vastly experienced Cameroonian science journalist, Isaac Njifakue, who passed on Saturday, December 12, following a short illness at his home.

Both were part of the inaugural edition of the Science Journalism Cooperation (SJCooP) project of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ).

Whereas Luganda participated as a mentee, Njifakue was a mentor to the French-speaking group of the project which lasted between 2006 and 2008.

At the time of his death, Luganda was the chairperson of the Network of Climate Journalists in the Greater Horn of Africa (NECJOGHA).

Njifakue, a graduate of the International School of Journalism, Yaoundé University in Cameroun, who also studied in Canada, the USA and France, worked as a journalist since 1981, for both radio and TV in Cameroon, where he built up a consulting company. He was the first Coordinator of the late Network of African Science Journalists, which preceded the mentoring programme of WFSJ.

The news of the demise of the two prominent African science journalists hit the African Science Community like a bolt.

Former Vice President of the African Federation of Science Journalists (AFSJ) and Editor-In-Chief, AfricaSTI News, Diran Onifade, who joined a host of other people to mourn the two departed colleagues, said they passed at a time they were still needed.

He, however, stated that Luganda and Njifakue died fulfilled, having earned themselves global recognitions that etched their names on the golden plaque.

“It is hard to come to terms with the fact that Patrick (Luganda) and Isaac (Njifakue) have passed and to think that this happened within four day is most incomprehensible. They passed when Africa still needed them because science journalism in the continent still needs nurturing through mentorship by experienced journalists like them.

“However, we take solace in the fact that they have contributed their own bits to the advancement of science journalism in Africa,” Onifade said.

Former President of the Ugandan Science Journalists association, William Odinga described Luganda as a pillar of science journalism in Africa.

“Patrick dedicated his life to Science Journalism and Science Communication. He was a strong pillar when we were founding the Uganda Science Journalists Association (USJA) in 2005,” Odinga stated in a tribute to Luganda.

SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Editor, Ochieng Ogodo, said with Luganda’s demise, Africa lost a powerful journalist and versatile communications consultant.

“Africa science journalism baobab tree has crushed,” Ogodo said in his tribute to Luganda.

“He was a force of nature – charming, energetic, creative and a determined force that achieved much,” he added.

 

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