By Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache
Sidi El Moctar Cheiguer, a leading journalist from Mauritania died on Wednesday morning in Niamey, Niger. He was the president of the African Network of environmental Journalists ( ANEJ). He will be buried in Nouakchott, Mauritania on April 1.
Designed in Nairobi in 2002, ANEJ is an initiative supported by the United Nations Environment Programme. Initially, 20 journalists are part of ANEJ. There are 600 members in 2021.
All regions of Africa are represented, East, West, Central, South and North. Sidi was elected president of the network in the first election and was subsequently re-elected. For 21 years, he hosted and organized international meetings in Africa on the environmental challenges of the continent and the planet. Journalists have the opportunity to exchange with national and international experts on topics such as climate change, biodiversity, household and hazardous waste management, and water and wetland management.
Well structured and prepared, these conferences do not suffer from language barriers. Professional translators are available. These conferences are well organized with nominative invitations, a detailed program for each event and a request for each journalist: the broadcast of audio and television reports or the publication of articles in the African media after each event. Sidi’s goal is clear: raising awareness about environmental issues in Africa must be through the media, all the media in the 54 countries of the continent.
Sidi, through these invitations, has enabled many novice African journalists to specialize in environmental journalism. Environmental issues have emerged in the African press and specialized media as well. ANEJ has been able to show many vocations of specialized journalists and also the creation of local antenna. Sidi, through his rigour and professionalism, made ANEJ shine. The network has been solicited many times by UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme. ANEJ was thus able to contribute to the publication of books on environmental journalism training in Africa. Its journalists have been called upon several times to conduct training. Sidi has spread many messages in the African and international press. His columns on the protection of the Amazon or on on the outcome of one of the IPCC reports are proof of this.
In recent years with the COVID-19 pandemic, ANEJ has rolled out on the internet and integrated the network into the digital era by organizing webinars to train journalists. ANEJ, was able to expose the challenges of the network’s journalists and reaffirmed its commitment to raising awareness of the issues related to the fight against waste and air pollution.
A forerunner, visionary and conductor, Sidi was one of the first journalists to believe in the power of the press to change the behaviour of citizens and decision-makers. To the end, he fought to convince. Sidi died at the age of 64 and will be buried in Nouakchott, Mauritania this Saturday afternoon. Rest in peace.