Lister, Ndjebela to beat WPFD 2021 drum

• 30 years of press freedom

18 March 2021 | Events



Namibian Sun editor Toivo Ndjebela and founding editor of The Namibian, Gwen Lister, have been selected as champions of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, whose celebrations are slated for Windhoek in May.

World Press Freedom Day has its origins in a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) conference held in Namibia in 1991, which led to the landmark Windhoek Declaration – which has since served as perpetual global reminder to nations to develop a free, independent and pluralistic press.

Between 1 and 3 May, the media world will descend on the capital – 30 years after the milestone adoption – to honour the Windhoek Declaration and interrogate how free, independent and pluralistic the global press is today and the regulatory nature of their environments. “The Namibian media is proud to present Gwen and Toivo as our spokespersons during this significant time in the history of our industry, and that of the global media sector,” Frank Steffen, the chairperson of the Namibia Editors Forum (EFN), said in a statement this week.

Awards and praise

Lister, now the chairperson of the Namibia Media Trust, co-chaired with the late Pius Njawe of Cameroon the historic 1991 Unesco seminar where the Windhoek Declaration was developed and adopted.

She is a recipient of several international press freedom awards, including the Inter Press Service Journalism Award and the Committee to Protect Journalists award for bravery.

In 2016, she was the first recipient of the Windhoek Declaration Scroll conferred by the EFN.

“As a 'new generation' editor, Toivo represents everything the post-Windhoek Declaration era brought forth. In his 14 years in journalism, he has worked for both private and public media, and returned to Namibian Sun in 2019 after two distinct stints at New Era as a senior reporter and managing editor. [He] has since experienced how the declaration's principles of a free, independent and pluralistic press applies in practice,” Steffen said.

“We are especially keen to hear their experience working in a country that is consistently rated favourably by international press freedom and free expression rankings. Not only did Namibia gift the world the seminal Windhoek Declaration, but the country can also serve as a positive role model for press freedom in Africa, and beyond.”

The 2021 international conference is hosted by Unesco and the government of Namibia. The conference will be a hybrid of virtual and physical gatherings in line with Covid-19 regulations. It will be attended by a limited number of journalists and other media practitioners from across the globe.