Wits Adjunct professor of Journalism Franz Kruger has described the university’s political studies PhD student Albert Sharra as hardworking and sharp journalist.
Kruger said this in reaction to Sharra’s recent achievements during the 2019 Media Institute of Southern Africa–Malawi chapter’s World Press Freedom Day Commemoration. The Wits trained journalist was named Journalist of the Year for the third time in four consecutive years at the Annual Media Awards Gala held as part of the celebrations. Sharra is the first to win the overall award more than twice and consecutively in Malawi.
“It was great working with him,” said Kruger, who also supervised Sharra’s MA thesis in 2017.
He added that Sharra’s achievements were proof that “The department continues to attract high calibre journalists.”
The multi-award winner beat 33 other journalists to be declared Journalist of the Year after winning in the education journalist and paediatric and Adolescent HIV journalist of the year categories. The Wits Journalism graduate achieved the same feat in 2016 and 2017 in a back to back triumph. In 2018, he won the most prized MISA-UN SDGs award decorated with a cash prize of $2000.
This year, he was recognised for articles published by National Publications Limited (NPL), including, ‘Long walk to school: Tales from rural areas’; ‘Coping with long distance to access education’; and ‘Neglected HIV traps: Minors living dangerously. The latter article stood out as the overall winner for exposing gaps in protecting minors in preadolescent age from new HIV infections.
Sharra told Wits Vuvuzela that for the past 10 years, he has been writing to raise debates and to add values to the community rather than filling space. “I graduated from being a breaking news reporter. I have been a journalist who wants to tell a story from where my fellow journalists are not looking at,” he said.
Alfred Ntonga, deputy CEO and head of the editorial department at NPL told Wits Vuvuzela that the heroes in Sharra’s articles are struggling girls, orphans and farmers who are “the ordinary people in villages who make up 80% of the Malawian population”.
“Malawi hinges on journalists of Sharra’s calibre. He is an unassuming achiever who has probably bagged more awards than any other journalist in Malawi,” Ntonga said.
Sharra joined Wits Journalism Masters programme in 2017 after winning the prestigious KAS Media Africa scholarship. He later won the Wits Merit Award for his PhD and also the Canon Collins Trust scholarship to fund his studies for three years. He is an accomplished achiever whose work continues to be recognised locally and beyond.
“It’s only God who knows what my future holds. My secret is working hard and I will not stop even though I am out of mainstream media because I know every career comes with its opportunities,” said Sharra.