The Washington Oxi Day Foundation announced today that the recipient of the 2013 Oxi Day Award will be John Githongo, a journalist who risked his life fighting corruption in Kenya. International musician and human rights activist Bono, who selected for the Oxi Day Foundation Githongo for this award, will introduce him via video at the awards ceremony. Githongo will be honored for the courage he showed — in the spirit of Oxi Day — to fight corruption and promote democratic values in Kenya.
Bono, who is helping spread the tremendous story of Greece’s David vs. Goliath courage in WWII and its crucial role saving the democracy we enjoy today, was named one of the 20 most politically effective celebrities of all time, according to a National Journal poll of DC insiders. He was also awarded Nobel’s Man of Peace prize in 2008.
Githongo has spent a lifetime fighting corruption in Kenya, both from inside and outside of government. As a journalist in the 1990s and later as founder and head of Kenya’s Transparency International chapter, Githongo attacked corruption throughout Kenyan society under the regime of then-president Daniel arap Moi who ruled the country as a one-party state. Following the election of Kenya’s first democratically-elected President in 2002, Githongo was appointed to be Kenya’s first anti-corruption czar. As rumors emerged of wrongdoing in the Kibaki government, Githongo relentlessly pursued them, uncovering an elaborate scheme by the president’s associates to steal hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Kenyan treasury. Despite repeatedly being threatened by Kibaki’s inner circle and told to back down from his investigation, Githongo became a whistleblower, secretly taping conversation with officials and documenting the corruption. In 2005, following credible and direct threats to his life, he fled to Great Britain where he continued to expose wrongdoing in the Kenya government. Githongo’s courageous story is documented in the book “It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower.”
Githongo will receive the Oxi Day Award at the Washington Oxi Day Celebration black tie dinner on October 24th at the Organization of American States building Washington, DC before hundreds of America’s top policy makers and opinion leaders. Participants will include policymakers from the White House, State Department, Defense Department, US Congress, top US think tanks and human rights groups, leaders and Ambassadors from numerous countries involved in WWII, as well as Greek-American leaders from across the country and WWII veterans. The 2013 Battle of Crete Award, honoring a female leader for freedom and democracy, will be presented the same evening to Berta Soler, a Cuban dissident and leader of the Ladies in White.
The Oxi Day Award is inspired by the David vs. Goliath story of Greece’s actions during World War II and the incredible courage displayed by the Greek people. The Greeks inflicted a fatal wound on Hitler’s forces at a crucial moment in WWII and inspired the world with their bravery and courage. The 2012 award recipient was blind Chinese dissident and human rights activist Chen Guancheng and the 2011 was Jamel Bettaieb, one of the five young men in Tunisia credited with starting the Arab Spring.
John Githongo returned to Kenya in 2008 where he founded and now serves as CEO of Inuka Kenya Trust, a grassroots advocacy group aimed at creating a more informed citizenry and encouraging ordinary people to mobilize to fight corruption. He also serves on the board of numerous organizations including the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCog), the International Centre for Transitional Justice, Freedom House and Bono’s One Campaign to fight poverty and disease. Githongo was awarded the German-Afrika President’s Prize for Leadership in 2004 and the African Annual Visionary Award in 2008 by the African Center for Strategic Studies at the U.S. National Defense University. In 2011, he was selected as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans by the UK-based New African Magazine.
Tickets to the black tie dinner and award ceremony are available for purchase here.