Article written

  • on 31.01.2015
  • at 12:00 PM
  • by Kevin

Jailed Tunisian Blogger Yassin Ayari named Social Media Personality of the Year 0

Tunisian blogger and activist Yassine Ayari, who is serving a one-year jail sentence for a Facebook post adjudged to be defamatory, emerged the #SMAA Social Media Personality of the Year at the just concluded ceremony dubbed Night of Virtual Wonders held in Lagos, Nigeria.

Ayari was first sentenced to three years in prison for criticising the Tunisian Defence Minister through a Facebook post. His lawyers appealed the judgment and Ayari was subsequently sentenced to a year by a superior court.

Development Diaries Ltd/GTE, who convened the #SMAA, event, have 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.

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.

Others are, 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, 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 purpose of the awards, according to #SMAA, 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 ceremony was preceded by a Social Media Africa Summit with the theme: Social Media for Governance, Leadership & Development. The event featured inspiring presentations by, among other notable personalities, communications specialist Rich Simmonds, who is also the author of Mug & Tweet; Thebe Ikalafeng, the Chairman of Brand Leadership South Africa & Brand Africa, and Ojoma Ochai, Arts Director, British Council.

The #SMAA judging process followed a set of criteria: influence, originality, scalability, creativity and impact. It was structured in a three-step process, beginning with a call for nominations followed by a review of the entries by a virtual council which culminated in a short list of 10 nominees per award.
To proceed to the final stage, cumulative scores from votes amassed and Jury scores (each accounting for 50%) were collated. The nominee with the highest average score emerged the winner of the corresponding #SMAA Award.

Winners received a one-of-a-kind #SMAA plaque and a cash prize of $1,000. They will also enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Nairobi for training with the Africa Media Initiative (AMI).

SMAA was presented by Sterling Bank and supported by the African Media Initiative (AMI), AIESEC Africa, West African NGO Network (WANGONET), Beat FM, Fan Milk Nigeria, Enplug Africa, Zisat, Trace TV, and ONTV.

SMAA Jury: Fred Swaniker — Founder and Executive Chairman, African Leadership Academy; Eric Chinje — Chief Executive Officer, African Media Initiative; Ken Banks — Founder,,; Hetal Shah — Director of Operations, Mara Group of Companies; Francis Ebuehi — Vice-President, VAS, Airtel Nigeria,; Dr. Kasirim Nwuke — Chief, New Technologies and Innovation, UNECA; Louis Onyango Otieno — Director, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Africa: Thebe Ikalafeng — Founder and Chairman, Brand Africa; Abubakar Suleiman — Executive Director, Strategy and Finance, Sterling Bank Plc; Ryan Silberman — Chief Operating Officer, Popimedia, South Africa; Dele Fatunla — Communications Co-ordinator, Royal African Society, London; Obi Asika — Founder, Dragon Africa; Duncan Onyango — East Africa Director, Acumen; Odo Effiong — Special Adviser Communication Technology Development – Cross River State Government; Muyiwa Moyela — External Relations Lead, IBM West Africa, and Udo Jude Ilo — Nigeria Director, Open Society Initiative for West Africa,.

SMAA Advisory Board consists of: Executive Director, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Abdul Tejan-Cole; Co-founder and CEO Crowdcentric, Toby Daniels; Lead Consultant/CEO, ThistlePraxis Consulting, Ini Onuk; Executive Director, West African NGO Network, Tunji Lardner and Head of Social Anthropology University of Cape Town, Prof. Francis Nyanmojoh.

By African Media Initiative (AMI)

Photo Credit: Amine GHRABI / Flickr

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