George Aligiah is a Journalist raising humanitarian issues. He was born in 1955 in Sri Lanka, but moved to Ghana when he was just 5 years old. Alagiah was there at a time when African Independence was just emerging and this has been at the core of his interests. This eventually led to George Alagiah’s career in television reporting and correspondence.
George Alagiah – England
He grew up in Ghana but he attended Durham University in England, where he obtained his degree in Politics. He started a career in print journalism with South Magazine where he worked as an African Correspondent in Zimbabwe for several years before being appointed the African Editor of the magazine. Seven years later in 1989, George Alagiah moved on to the BBC where he undertook the position of South African correspondent.
In 2002, he used his interest in humanitarian issues in exposing international suffering as a way of furthering his career. He launched BBC 4’s International news programme where global suffering and events would be easily accessible to the public. In 2003, Alagiah joined the BBC’s six o’clock news, which he presents with Sophie Raworth. Read more on emma.tv).
He has reported on: trade in human organs in India; the murder of street children in Brazil; the civil war and famine in Somalia; the genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath; the plight of the marsh Arabs in southern Iraq; the civil wars in Afghanistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa; the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire; the effects of Hurricane Mitch on Honduras; the Kosovan refugee crisis; the NATO liberation of Pristina; the international intervention in East Timor; the farm invasions in Zimbabwe; the intifada in the West Bank; and the aftermath of the terror attacks on New York.
Documentaries and features include reports on: why affirmative action in America is a ‘Lost Cause’ for the Assignment programme; Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq for Newsnight; on the last reunion of the veterans of Dunkirk; and a BBC ONE special on the trial and conviction of Jill Dando’s murderer.
Among prominent figures interviewed by George Alagiah are: Nelson Mandela; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; Kofi Annan of the United Nations; Yasser Arafat; President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; and Tariq Aziz of Iraq.
George Alagiah has won several awards including: the Critics Award and the Golden Nymph Award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival (1992); award for Best International Report at the Royal Television Society (1993); commendation from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (1993); Amnesty International’s Best TV Journalist award (1994); the One World Broadcasting Trust award (1994); the James Cameron Memorial Trust award (1995); and the Bayeux Award for War Reporting (1996).
In 1998 he was voted Media Personality of the Year at the Ethnic Minority Media Awards. In 2000 he was part of the BBC team which collected a BAFTA award for its coverage of the Kosovo conflict.
He first joined the BBC in 1989 after seven years in print journalism with South Magazine. He has contributed to several British newspapers including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and the Daily Express.
He is a specialist on Africa and the developing world.
He has spoken at the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Society for Arts and at the Royal Overseas League. His appearances at literary festivals include Cheltenham, Keswick, Hay-on-Wye and London. George Alagiah is a patron of the following organisations: The Presswise Trust, the NAZ Project, the Parenting, Education and Support Forum.
He is also parton of the Fairtrade Foundation. He writes: What we don’t hear about very often are the thousands of little victories in thousands of remote places.
At the Fairtrade Foundation we know all about those – Fairtrade farmers are heroes, showing through their hard work that the developing world is full of people just waiting to prove what they can achieve given half the
chance. That’s what trading fairly is about – it’s about making certain that endeavour is rewarded justly.
The Fairtrade scheme is a radical alternative that is good for us and good for them. By guaranteeing a fair price it means farmers all over the world can stay on their land instead of joining the desperate procession of people into city slums.
Families get to plan ahead – they can, for example, promise their children another year of school. Or
together they can decide to improve conditions for the whole community – a new standpipe, or a village hall.
Crucially, they are the ones making the decisions rather than do-gooders from outside.
When I visited the SOFA tea co-operative in Sri Lanka last year I could see how Fairtrade is about more than money. In the way the people greeted me it was obvious we enabled them to gain something the accountants can’t add up and economists can’t predict – CONFIDENCE.
And how is it good for us? Buying goods with the Fairtrade Mark is about asserting our rights as consumers. It means we don’t have to wait for the
politicians to change the way the world works (look what a hash they made of things at the Cancun Summit in September).
We have to keep telling those politicians what we want them to do. But we can also show them the
way – we can get on here and now and make a difference by doing what we do anyway – shopping for food.
And because of the Fairtrade Foundation’s
rigorous inspections, we know that the money is going where it is supposed to. How’s that for a result! (Read more on new consumer).
His first book, A Passage to Africa, was published by Little, Brown & Company in September 2001. It won the Madoc Award at the 2002 Hay Literary Festival. Alagiah’s essay Shaking the Foundations has been published by the BBC in its book on the aftermath of September 11. It is a best-selling account of his upbringing and travels through the continent. (Read more on BBC Press-Office).