A film, Chameleon, which details the exploits of investigative journalist, Anas Anas, was screened on Thursday night at a journalism conference in Ouagadogou, Burkina Faso.
Anas Anas is a Ghanaian reporter, whose investigative pieces, which exposes corruption and crime, across Africa and beyond have shot him into limelight.
He has also been known to carry out in-depth undercover report that have exposed him to numerous risks
Anas is one of the over 200 journalists, scholars and government officials who are currently in Ouagadogou to brainstorm on challenges facing press freedom and freedom of expression in Africa.
The deliberations are under the auspices of the International Festival of Freedom of Expression and Press (FILEP) organised by the Norbert Zongo Press Centre (CNP-NZ).
The theme of this biennial FILEP meeting is “Feathers, microphones and cameras for a free and united Africa”.
At the event are representatives of media organisations, journalists, the African Federation of Houses and Press Centers (FACMP), media rights organisations, human rights defenders, and other media personalities.
The three-event commenced on Wednesday with an official opening by the Burkina Faso Speaker of the House.
The film showed many of the undercover reports embarked upon by Anas in recent months, particularly with emphasis on the preparations that went into them by the team of reporters and government officials led by the Ghanaian reporter.
The film, according to Anas, was also scripted with the aim of documenting the rudiments of investigative and undercover processes involved in the exposure of high profile crimes and official graft.
The film shows highlights the raging controversy and debates surrounding (non)ethical backing to undercover reporting and how this ‘contravenes’ the rules guiding conventional investigative reporting.
Expert takes from media experts on rules guiding investigative reporting, also infused the production.
In the flick, alongside other powerful investigations, Anas documents how a doctor who specialises in raping of women seeking abortion before helping them out was nabbed.
A group of underaged persons and women were also saved from ‘human trafficking’ through the efforts of Anas and his team.
I have no apologies for my kind of journalism- Anas
Anas, in a highly charged debate with journalists after the screening said he had no apologies for the kind of undercover methods he employs in exposing corruption.
He said African journalists must strive to craft their own unique ways of carrying out investigations rather than relying on conventional methods handed down by the west. This he added, was due to the uniqueness of crime and corruption in the African continent.
He also explained his ‘name and shame’ policy in conducting investigative pieces.
“My focal point is to put you (corrupt persons) in jail. There is no point in doing what I do when I can’t put you in jail,” he said. “Why am I doing this? I have seen and read the kind of journalism that had been done over the years. Nobody from London, Canada or the U.S. can come to Ghana and tell me how to do my journalism. I know what works for me and I have chosen that path.”
He also said: “I will expose your bad deeds, take you to court, make sure you are are prosecuted and thrown into jail. I am a lawyer by profession and I know the nuances of the law.”
He also said he has no antagonism towards conventional journalists “as he started as one” but adds that their mode of investigation does not work for him.
“I applaud my colleagues who do conventional journalism. Without them, my work cannot be effective because if I do investigations and no one reports on them, then they will not be effective. But we do not do the same thing. I am an undercover journalist and I will stay as such,” Anas said.
And why does he cover his face in public and maintain anonymity? He responds.
“My anonymity has always been my secret weapon. I don’t do interviews. But my personnel do this. By the time they come before you, you can be the president or whatever, it (interview) is hottie than the normal interview. So if I have an investigation, a team member, who is a conventional journalist will go and do that interview and come back, then we review. But once the letterhead of our company shows, everyone knows it’s a bad case. We have won that reputation,” he said.
The conference which involves an international symposium on the theme of the festival with several sub-themes and constituted panels of debates started with an inaugural conference by a professor, Théophile Obenga.
There will also be a Gala Night where the Norbert Zongo Prize for best Investigative Reporting, Photo and Caricature Award will be handed out.
The week-long event is expected to end on Saturday with a visit a Tourist Excursion to LAONGO granite site and a closing concert with African musical maestros, Didier Awadi, Ismo Vitalo, Nourat and Almamy KJ.
The Investigative Prize is an award of excellence to reward the best works of investigative journalism in Africa.
The prize is open to all the professional working journalists in Africa or journalists collaborating with the African press.
The stories selected by the organisers were published or broadcast between May 3, 2017, and May 3, 2019.
The prize was initiated in honour of a journalist, Norbert Zongo, who was killed while conducting an investigation into the unresolved death of David Ouédraogo, driver of François Compaoré, the younger brother of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso.