Talk | Cry Freedom. Trends of Repression and Resistance in five African Countries

Sunday 5 February, 2023 12.345 - 13.30 | Plein Foyer, International Theatre Amsterdam

Elizabeth BanyiTabi (Cameroon), Ngina Kirori (Kenya), Emmanuel Mutaizibwa (Uganda), Theophilus Abbah (Nigeria). Host: Bram Vermeulen.

A new generation of African investigative journalists is exposing repression, abuse of power and self-enrichment, often while working under difficult and dangerous circumstances. What have they uncovered in their work? And how do their stories contribute to the growing movements for change on the African continent?

Documentary maker and journalist Bram Vermeulen will be in conversation with investigative journalists Theophilus Abbah (Nigeria), Elizabeth BanyiTabi (Cameroon), Ngina Kirori (Kenya) and Emmanuel Mutaizibwa (Uganda). Along with Chief Bisong Etahoben and Brezh Malabah, these journalists authored ZAM’s most recent transnational investigation, Cry Freedom - Trends of Repression and Resistance in Five African Countries.

About the speakers

Elizabeth BanyiTabi is an award-winning reporter for The Post, the most widely-read English-language daily newspaper in Cameroon. She also works online and in radio. In 2021 she was part of a team convened by The Guardian (UK) to investigate the aftermath of the drowning in Turkey of a Cameroonian-born migrant. Soon after she also began researching the impact of armed conflict on displaced young girls, some of whom turned to prostitution to survive. For this research, which was a collaboration with Chief Bisong Etahoben, she had to strike a balance between protecting terrified sources and bringing the truth to light. “They say freedom of speech is guaranteed, but freedom after speech is not guaranteed”, she says. “But we managed to go beyond fear.” BanyiTabi is currently majoring in Women's Studies and Mass Communication.

Emmanuel Mutaizibwa is the political and investigative editor for the Nation Media Group in Uganda, and is also the co-founder of the East African Centre for Investigative Reporting Ltd (EACIR), the publisher behind Vox Populi ( He has produced films for diverse organisations including Insight: The World Investigates, Al-Jazeera, TRT World, Vice, and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). He has also written for the Sunday Times in South Africa and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). Watching colleagues being arrested recently "because of the whims of powerful individuals," he noted that one needs "a fearless spirit" to continue investigative journalism in his country.

Ngina Kirori is an investigative journalist for Nation Media TV (NTV) in Kenya. She has a track record of dangerous undercover work and coverage of social protests, and has faced tear gas and wrongful arrest during her work. In August 2021, she went undercover in a hospital to expose a doctor who was sexually abusing and defrauding his patients. She managed to get the man suspended and charged, despite attempts by the court to silence her. In 2022, she unmasked a rogue police officer who had released suspects in exchange for bribes. She had to go into hiding for a time because of threats, but again succeeded in bringing the perpetrator to justice. Kirori is a respected voice tanks to her coverage.

Theophilus Abbah won the Editors' Courage FAIR award and has been shortlisted for both the Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism and the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism awards. He holds a PhD in Forensic Linguistics. After a long career as an investigative editor, he has now assumed the role of program director for the Nigerian Daily Trust, where his work includes humanitarian work for the Daily Trust Foundation. The foundation awards scholarships to female students, supports orphanages and implements water supply projects for rural communities. Most recently, Abbah travelled to remote areas of Nigeria to secure the release of several young prisoners. He also continues to work as an investigative journalist for ZAM.

Bram Vermeulen has worked as a foreign editor for NOS News and as a correspondent for NRC in South Africa and Turkey. He has a keen interest in Africa and the Middle East. He has made various documentary series for Dutch television, including Langs de grenzen van Turkije, Dwars door Afrika, De Trek and Frontline. He also wrote the book Help, ik ben blank geworden. He has received several awards for his journalistic work, including the Lira Correspondents Award.