Pius Njawé (Le Messager)
Pius Njawé (Le Messager)

CPJ mourns death of Cameroon’s Pius Njawé

New York, July 13, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists extends its deep condolences to the family and colleagues of Pius Njawé, a pioneering Cameroonian journalist and a press freedom advocate, who was killed in a car accident in the United States on Monday.

Njawé, 53, was president of the Free Media Group, a company that publishes Cameroon’s leading independent daily Le Messager, and a 1991 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award. 

On Monday afternoon, in Bowers Hills in southeastern Virginia, a tractor-trailer truck struck the rear of a Lexus sedan in which Njawé was a front-seat passenger, according to news reports. Njawé was in the United States to participate in a pro-democracy forum organized by the Washington-based Cameroon Diaspora For Change, according to news reports.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of our colleague Pius Njawé whose tragic death is a great loss to Cameroon’s independent press,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “Pius Njawé has left his mark with Le Messager, which endures as a leading independent newspaper in Cameroon.”

Njawé began his career in the press in 1972 as an errand boy with the Semences Africaines newspaper, according to Le Messager, a paper he would found in 1979 at the age of 22. He was imprisoned dozens of times during his career, according to the paper. Following the September 2002 death of his wife, Jane, in a car accident in Cameroon, Njawé launched the Jane and Justice Foundation for Human Development dedicated to improving traffic safety. The next month, he applied for a license to launch a radio station, Freedom FM, but his efforts were thwarted by state censorship. He is survived by a wife and several children.