Prof Anton Harber: Inspiring investigative journalists in Africa
If you are an investigative journalist in Africa, and have ever attended or followed the African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC), hosted by WITS University in Johannesburg, South Africa, then you would have at least heard of Prof Anton Harber or might have seen or met him.
Prof Harber, is an Adjunct Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the University and he is a consummate defender and promoter of the highest levels of journalism, particularly investigative journalism in Africa. He has without doubt dedicated a greater part of his life and professional career to contributing in no small way to the growth of journalism in Africa, as a journalist and teacher.
Loved and valued by the investigative journalism community in Africa and beyond, he has been the Convenor of the AIJC series currently at the 18th edition scheduled to take off next week from October 31 to November 2, 2022. The conference this year would be the first in-person after the COVID-19 pandemic, and it would bring together the largest number of journalists, more than 400 in the history of the conference, from almost every part of Africa and the world. The conference would be the hotbed of learning, experience and knowledge sharing about best practices of investigative journalism. There would also be music, dance and plenty of food – South African food, just like during past conferences.
Prof Harber is at the center of this important conference that has consistently served as a learning ground and networking opportunity for the continent’s muckrakers. His commitment to educating the continent’s journalists goes beyond the classroom, as this conference has shown. Working tirelessly with his dedicated staff, every year they pull off an incredibly well organised conference with all the challenges of visa acquisition, patchy air travel networks on the continent and the high cost of tickets.
Without being around him, it is possible to visualize that he and his staff are currently in the middle of many things as the day for the opening of the conference draws close. Putting together final logistics, details and following up to assist speakers and participants resolve last minute issues before travelling.
Over the years, Prof. Harber has been consistent and persistent in the face of the many odds to keep this conference going. In 2017, he hosted for the first time in Africa, the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GICJ). The GIJC has for many years been held on other continents, often in Europe. Hosting of the GIJC in Africa further confirmed the Colossus in Prof Harber and his deep-seated commitment to enhancing journalism on the continent.
For most journalists in Africa, Prof Anton Harber is a hero, worth celebrating.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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