Mariam Ouédraogo, a Burkinabè journalist, has just added a great victory to her already prestigious CV by winning the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy award for war correspondents. A prize that is all the more meritorious since the recent news in Burkina Faso – the coup d’état and the anti-French demonstrations making the headlines – had almost relegated to the rank of secondary interest the jihadist danger which has been methodically eroding territorial integrity for some years.
National drama behind closed doors
While Russian flags float in the Ouagadougou sky, and the chaotic euphoria of yet another putsch rises in the atmosphere, we almost forget the geographical discontinuity which is gradually eating away at the country, its fragmentation, the daily victims suffering the violence and racketeering, and the jihadist groups that have established themselves in an obviously chronic way. Among these anonymous martyrs, the women are the targets of choice for rape, assault and robbery. It is this more or less new reality in the development of the conflict, immersed in a certain opacity and ultimately not very well documented, that Mariam Ouédraogo explores in an edifying report: Dablo-Kaya axis: The road to hell for internally displaced women. It earned him the precious distinction of the written press prize at the 29th edition of the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy awards.
Burkina Faso: what is “anti-French” or “pro-Russian” in the putsch?
In a dive into the heart of forbidden roads, criss-crossed by groups without pity, the journeys of these women come to life under a precise pen, without embellishments, with a remarkable realism and sense of detail. Enriched with a precise chronology and quantified data, the investigation is marked by the courage of the journalist and by the informed and moving testimonies that she brilliantly transcribes. Exploring this complex reality paints a dark, miniature picture of a national drama behind closed doors. That also of a hydra which thrives and metastasizes in the depths of the country, upsetting habits and spreading an endemic fear. We follow these people in their survival strategies and their crossing of these impossible roads. The result is a precise picture, which gives a tangible image of the violence that is rampant and whose low intensity often covers the terrible bite it leaves on populations.
Mariam Ouédraogo signs a pointed paper, which puts this gangrene back in the center of attention. A choice of the jurors all the stronger since beyond this first prize, we can note in the prize list the raid carried out by the topics about the war in Ukraine. This first prize rewards a paper, an obstinacy, a talent, a shift, on the part of the one who has continued to pile up the trophies – including the anti-corruption prize of the National Network for the Fight against Corruption (REN-LAC ) for one of his reports in 2019. This multiplies the scope of his writings tenfold, and sets him up as a continental watchtower.
Jihadism in the Sahel: the inexorable descent towards the Gulf of Guinea
Crowning a journalist who publishes in the relative modesty of the national daily Sidwaya Editions, this award is the obvious sign of journalistic vitality in Africa, proof that some media maintain an endogenous agenda, outside the influence of media censorship, this agenda established according to a concept by Philippe Riutort (associate in social sciences), which defines the order of priorities. Many quality newspapers on the continent, for lack of visibility and substantial circulation, are buried in general discredit – collateral victims of a depreciation that certain newspapers certainly deserve, without means, living on per diem, sometimes yielding to the sensationalism of survival.
By generalization, this also casts suspicion on quality prints. At the same time, this award restores a fair hierarchy within the continental press. Images from TV5 on Sidwaya Editions thus showed the scenes of life of a tight and hard-working editorial staff, within which it is also a collective work that is highlighted. The one who tells of a country in territorial rupture, but who can count on his sons and daughters to tell his daily life, and, ultimately, resist the most serious danger on the scale from continent.