The editor of the Samoa Observer Newspaper, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, has been named the recipient of the prestigious Boerma Award by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.)
He is the joint winner of the 2016-1017 Award with Ms. Zeynab Zandati, a journalist from Kenya. He becomes the first Pacific Islander to win the award.
Mata’afa was informed about the award yesterday, in an email from the Director of the Officer for Corporate Communications and Secretary of F.A.O. Conference Awards, Enrique Yeves, who is based in Rome, Italy.
Mr. Yeves’ email says:
“Dear Mr. Keni Lesa,
It is with pleasure that I refer to the F.A.O Awards 2016-2017 in particular to the Boerma Award."
“This Award commemorates the services rendered by former Director-General, Dr. A.H. Boerma to F.A.O, his able leadership and the important steps he took towards solving global food problems of unprecedented magnitude."
“In recognition of the important role of the media in the fight against hunger, F.A.O has since 1979 presented the A.H. Boerma Award to journalists or groups of journalists, from around the world, who have brought food security and rural development issues in developing countries to the attention of civil society."
“I am honoured to inform you that you have been selected with Ms Zeynab Zandati, a journalist from Kenya, as joint winners of the 2016-2017 A.H. Boerma Award. In this regard, we would like to invite you to accept this award during an official ceremony at the margins of the 40th F.A.O Conference from 3-8 July 2017."
“Please be informed that this notification will be followed by an official letter to you from FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
“In the meantime, I take this opportunity to express to you my heartfelt congratulations."
Mata’afa said he is humbled by the Award.
The son of the late Levaopolo Alopopo Ramese and Sieni Mata’afa-Lesaisaea of Salamumu and Papa Sataua gives credit to God Almighty first and foremost.
He dedicates the award to the hardworking management and staff of the Samoa Observer at Vaitele and all over the world.
“I am absolutely honoured,” he said.
“It's not just about me, it's about the work our team does and the stories of those people we tell on the pages of this newspaper and share with the world online."
“Ultimately this is about Samoa. It’s about a collective effort to improve people’s livelihoods by not only highlighting the truth and the struggles but also finding common ground where all parties can come together to build a better society, a better Samoa.”
Mata’afa, already an award-winning journalist, has worked at the Samoa Observer for 18 years. He has been the Editor for 10 years.
Married to Laufaleaina Eli-Lesa, he is the father of two girls, Solania Lote Vaitu’utu’u and Tofigaonafanua Jade Lesa.
ABOUT THE A. H. BOERMA AWARD
The award is for journalists who have successfully steered public attention towards food security topics.
In recognition of the important role of the media in the fight against hunger, FAO has since 1979 presented the A.H. Boerma Award to journalists or groups of journalists, from around the world, who have brought food security and rural development issues in developing countries to the attention of civil society.
The A.H. Boerma Award commemorates the significant contribution of former FAO Director-General, Addeke Hendrik Boerma (1968 – 1975) to FAO, his able leadership and the important steps he took towards solving global food problems of unprecedented magnitude.
Previous winners have included The Guardian – Development team, Financial Times journalist Javier Blas, CNN International's Jim Clancy, producer and host of Inside Africa, Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times, Michael Pickstock, of the BBC, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, The Wall Street Journal and more.
The winners travel to Rome to receive their awards from the Director-General at a special ceremony held during the year of the F.A.O Conference.