July 15, 2010
Pius Njawé. (Themba Hadebe/Courtesy The Associated Press)

Pius Njawé. (Themba Hadebe/Courtesy The Associated Press)

Remembering Pius Njawé

Pius Njawé, the Cameroonian newspaper editor who was repeatedly harassed, detained and imprisoned for publishing critical reports about his country's authoritarian regime, died July 12 in a car accident in Virginia. He was 53.

Njawé was one of Africa's most prominent and fearless journalists and a staunch proponent of press freedom. He founded Le Messager newspaper in 1979 when he was 22. In the 1990s, Le Messager set the standard for vigorous, independent-minded journalism in sub-Saharan Africa.

Njawé often was the target of government threats, crackdowns and stonewalling. In 1997, he was jailed for reporting that Cameroonian President Paul Biya suffered a heart attack. During his 10-month imprisonment, he shared a dungeon-like cell with more than 100 prisoners. His 1998 book "Bloc-notes d'un Bagnard" ("Convict's Notebooks") documented his time in jail. He was later pardoned by presidential decree.

The walking stick that he carved in jail is on display in the Time Warner World News Gallery.

Njawé, who was in the United States attending a meeting of Cameroonian expatriates, is survived by his wife and eight children.

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