Jailed Tunisia Blogger, Others Win Social Media Award

By Adedayo Ogunleye, Abuja

A jailed Tunisian blogger and activist and seven others have received awards at a just concluded Social Media African Awards, SMAA, ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria.

Yassine Ayari, who received a one year prison sentence for making a an adjudged defamatory Facebook comment which criticized the Tunisian Defence minister, was awarded the Social Media Personality of the Year award at a ceremony tagged ‘Night of Virtual Wonders’.

Ayari had initially been sentenced to three years in prison for the offence but his lawyers appealed the judgment and his sentence was altered to one year by a superior court.

The sentence was handed down on January 20, but Ayari, 33, was arrested on December 25 on his return from Paris, following an initial three-year sentence passed the previous month in his absence.

Other SMAA winners include Ben Kiruthi of Kenya — Blogger of the Year; Michael Hlatshwayo of South Africa — Social Media Hero; and Jimi Tewe of Nigeria — Twitter Handle of the Year.

Other winners at the event include: Barefootlaw of Uganda — Facebook Page of the Year; The Love Tour, Kenya — Influencer of the Year; DHL Africa (Kenya) — Best Use of Social Media by Private Sector; Stand to End Rape, Nigeria — Best Use by Non-Profit.

In other categories, Adforumco of Nigeria won the Best Use by Start-up/MSME; KCB Group, Kenya – Best Use by financial Institution; Afrinolly, Nigeria — App of the Year; #TheNiteTalk, Kenya — Hashtag of the Year; Raha 2.0, Tanzania — Brand of the Year, and Nigeria Trade Hub, Nigeria — Best Rated Platform.

The conveners of the event, Development Diaries Ltd/GTE, which condemned the actions of the Tunisian government and re-affirmed that the right to free speech is a fundamental human right which must not be suppressed or stifled, stated that the purpose of instituting the awards is to recognise and reward excellence, creativity and impact in the use of social media tools and platforms by individuals and organisations in Africa.



    At the inaugural ceremony, 15 awards across four categories attracted more than 3,000 entries from 26 countries.

    The award ceremony was preceded by a Social Media Africa Summit, also convened by Development Diaries Ltd/GTE, with the theme Social Media for Governance, Leadership & Development.

    The event featured inspiring presentations by, among other notable personalities, communications specialist Rich Simmonds, Thebe Ikalafeng, the chairman of Brand Leadership South Africa & Brand Africa and Ojoma Ochai, Arts director, British Council.

    Ayari and other winners received a plaque and a cash prize of $1,000. Other benefits include an all-expenses-paid trip to Nairobi for training with the Africa Media Initiative, AMI.


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