Reporters Without Borders has learned with deep sadness of the accidental death in the United States today of Cameroonian journalist Pius Njawé.
“This man who has just died was a real icon, an icon for press freedom. I am extremely saddened by his death”, said Jean-François Julliard, secretary general of the worldwide press freedom organisation.
“Pius Njawe was a friend of Reporters Without Borders, he was like family, with whom we had a warm and trusting relationship”.
“He did a huge amount for the Cameroon press. Founding the country’s first campaigning newspaper at the end of the 1970s, well before the beginnings of multi-parties and the springtime of the African press, was an act of bravura. It is to him that journalists today owe their right to outspokenness. But far from being concerned only with the challenges in his own country, Pius Njawé was open to outside world and followed events in other countries. He fought every press freedom struggle. We will not forget, for example that he joined us on a visit to Sarajevo, in 1992, to offer support to Oslobodenje, the only newspaper that continued to come out during the war in Yugoslavia”, Julliard added. “We offer our deepest sympathy to all his colleagues and send a message of particular support to all his friends and family”.
He was a courageous, even reckless journalist, a pioneer of the independent press in Cameroon. Njawé started the daily Le Messager in 1979, at the age of 22. His forthrightness and the strength of his commitment earned him several prison terms. “I was arrested 126 times in 30 years”, he said on Radio France international in 2009 in an interview marking the 30th anniversary of his newspaper.