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Tributes to Pius Njawe: 1957-2010

Posted by Admin on Jul 13th, 2010 and filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Colleagues and Friends Remember a Press Freedom Hero

International Press Institute| 14 July 2010|

Pius Njawe, 1957-2010. File photo courtesy of Le Messager

“I retain of him the image of a man of conviction, a man of principle, a man who had convictions he was willing to defend. He was someone who had a vision for human society, someone who fought for justice for all, and who was also a great defender of freedom of the press and freedom in general. A heavy burden lies on the shoulders of the staff here at the newspaper. We are aware of that burden. Now we must continue the struggle he initiated.”

- Frederic Boungou, Editor-in-Chief, Le Messager, Cameroon

“I’m really sorry; this is very sad news.” – Freedom Neruda, IPI World Press Freedom Hero, Cote d’Ivoire

“Really sad news.  I sat with him on a UNESCO committee and became a great fan of his courage, his humour and his kindness. Time whips along and some of the newer people may not recall that he went to jail because of a football match. He was present at a major soccer game and noticed the president left the box for a while, came back briefly then left without presenting the trophy, as planned.  Pius checked, spoke to three doctors who had been involved in treating him, then ran a para or so next day saying the president was recovering well from a minor heart attack. He was charged with insulting the presidency and jailed.  All our organisations screamed publicly. ANPA sent a lawyer down to his hearings in Cameroon and, as I remember, helped get him out early.”

- Paddy Sherman, Publisher Emeritus, Pacific Press, IPI Fellow, Canada

“We are deeply saddened by the news of Pius Njawe’s sudden and tragic death. Pius has been working together with UNESCO for more than thirty years in the efforts to ensure freedom of expression and the development of free and independent media in Africa. He was never afraid of speaking out and embodied the very spirit of freedom of speech. He was intelligent, highly professional and a true friend. We will miss his warmth, generosity and sharp intelligence. With Pius’ death the international press freedom community has lost one of its best men. My condolences and thoughts go out to his family.”

- Mogens Schmidt, Director, Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace,


So sad to hear of Pius Njawe’s death. I knew him through his press freedom struggle in Cameroon long before I even met him at IPI gatherings. Pius was the quintessential torch bearer of the free press campaign not just in his native land but also in Africa. I remember appending my signature to a list of numerous others to petition the Cameroonian authorities to free him as he languished in jail many years ago for daring to give his countrymen and women an independent view of how their country was being governed. Such incarcerations fortified rather than weakened his determination to trumpet the message of the free Press. Pius Njawe will leave an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of all those who struggle to make the world a better place for all of us.

- Wangethi Mwangi, Consultant at the Nation Media Group and IPI Board Member, Kenya

“I am absolutely shocked to hear of the death of Pius Njawe, a pioneering journalist and IPI Press Freedom Hero whom I have known for many years as a brave and tireless campaigner for press freedom in Africa. Pius, as the founder and editor of Le Messager in Cameroon, was arrested over 30 times for his newspaper’s independent and critical reporting in that country. I was so looking forward to meeting with him once again at the September Congress of IPI, which will honour the 60 World Press Freedom Heroes, and to share views about the current state of the media in Africa. He will be sorely missed, but leaves behind a legacy of self-sacrifice, bravery and journalistic commitment for others to emulate.

My thoughts are with his family and all those who worked closely with him. Rest in peace, Pius.”

- Gwen Lister, Editor, The Namibian and IPI World Press Freedom Hero, Namibia

I am very sad knowing that Pius Njawe died in a car accident just outside Washington DC.

I also feel regretful of not being able to see him when he came to Washington DC due to my travelling out of town, and now realizing that it would have been the last time I would see him. I have known Pius for many years since the first time I met him in Lebanon in 1999 and I can never forget the good feeling he left in me after each meeting with him. He always makes others feel joyful, self-confident and full of energy. I miss him so much and I believe we all have lost an international life-long defender of press freedom.

- Doan Viet Hoat, Ph.D., Chairman, International Institute for Vietnam and IPI World Press Freedom Hero, Vietnam

“I salute a great journalist who faced a brutal regime with enormous courage and dedication to media freedom. I first met him when he was in the dock of a Douala court awaiting the outcome of an appeal against a two-year jail sentence for “publishing false news about President Paul Biya”.  I was there as an IPI and WPFC representative making a plea for a pardon which was granted six months later. He cheerfully disregarded the formality of the court proceedings droning around us and shook my hand as I leaned over the dock from the crowded public gallery and handed him a copy of the plea. On the many occasions I met with him afterwards he showed the same unflinching courage in defence of Press freedom accompanied by that boisterous sense of humour that always singled him out in company. I am deeply saddened but privileged to have known him.”

- Raymond Louw, Editor and Publisher, Southern Africa Report and IPI Fellow, South Africa

“I couldn’t be more shocked by the terrible news of the death of Pius Njawe. Pius embodied human qualities one would want in all our colleagues of the press. He was generous, kind, spontaneous, humorous, both intelligent and clever, and, above all, dedicated with moral and physical courage to truth and justice. His very presence in a room made those around him want to enter with joy in the fray for press freedom. He was not afraid to go to jail for his beliefs, and he was not afraid to speak out, even from his prison, against a dictatorial government. I had the honour to translate and distribute statements he smuggled out of his prison in Cameroon. He was an example for journalists in Africa and everywhere of a man willing literally to risk his all to advance freedom of the press. My heart goes out to his family. I will miss a dear friend. He was a very big man in every sense of the word.”

- Rony Koven, World Press Freedom Committee, United States

“The African media has lost a truly courageous individual whose bravery in the face of government intimidation served as an inspiration for other journalists in similar circumstances across the continent. The International Press Institute expresses its deepest sympathies at this particularly difficult and sad time.”

- David Dadge, Director, IPI, Austria

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