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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

African media pioneer dies of Covid-19

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The founding father of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report magazines, Béchir Ben Yahmed, died in Paris on Monday aged 93, after shedding a two-month battle to Covid-19, writes Serges David.

The founder and CEO of French weekly African information journal Jeune Afrique, Béchir Ben Yahmed was hospitalized on the finish of March in Paris. He devoted over 60 years of his life to the press, dying considerably fittingly, on Might 3rd World Press Freedom Day.

After graduating from one of many world’s main enterprise faculties, HEC in Paris, Ben Yahmed was enlisted as a part of a Tunisian delegation to barter the nation’s independence from France. The 12 months was 1955, and Ben Yahmed fashioned an in depth, indelible reference to Tunisia’s first post-independence President, Habib Bourguiba.

That 12 months, eager to blaze a brand new media path for a newly impartial Africa, Ben Yahmed based ‘L’Motion’, {a magazine} which  borrowed the title of a nationalist newspaper began by Bourguiba and his followers in 1934.

On the tender age of 28, Ben Yahmed was appointed Secretary of State for Data, the youngest minister within the cupboard of the newly impartial republic.

In 1957, Béchir Ben Yahmed resigned from his duties, later launching a weekly publication focussed on present affairs on the continent, Afrique Motion, which quickly turned Jeune Afrique. Decided to stay untethered and impartial from Bourguiba’s authorities, he relocated the group’s operations to Rome, earlier than relocating to Paris in 1964.

It was from there that for over 50 years he presided over the expansion of the group, cementing it as a masthead for readers in francophone Africa.

Béchir Ben Yahmed was born on April 2, 1928 in Djerba, an tiny island off Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast. Along with his departure, Africa loses a terrific witness to its modern historical past and a pioneer in African media.

TESTIMONY – A heroic period

By Afif Ben Yedder, Founding father of IC Publications

I lived with “BBY” within the heroic and thrilling instances of the early years of Jeune Afrique’s journey. First in Rome, earlier than I used to be tasked with opening the Paris workplace in 1964, then lastly in London in 1971 with the launch of Africa Journal.

A chapter has sadly closed.

Jeune Afrique has been a breeding floor for dozens of nice journalists and writers who minimize their enamel in the course of the heydays of African independence.

BBY’s robust and endearing persona has drawn, to the purpose of devotion,  many followers and admirers.

He has been a grand grasp for a lot of professionals in media and publishing who went on to have distinctive careers thereafter.

He was rigorous and intensely demanding, unwavering in his expectations of the standard and requirements of labor. He had just one ardour, to which he devoted his life: his publication. He beloved to work, work, and all the time work. Holidays and languishing by the pool weren’t for him.

All through his life he was undeterred by threat, typically placing all the things on the road to make sure the survival of his newspaper.

He was a vigorous, clever and humorous. He might seem aloof and shy however on the identical time very certain of himself. He was candid along with his criticisms and judgments, and blunt in his feedback on the weekly editorial conferences. Few journalists have escaped his public slights throughout these classes, which have been typically ruthless. However BBY was an irresistible grasp and you may solely forgive him.

I returned to my past love in 2000, responding to his name to as soon as once more lead Jeune Afrique, which had change into a big, recognised and outstanding media group. This second coming lasted solely two years.

Béchir Ben Yahmed belonged to this distinctive set of people, a pantheon of establishment builders. He was a visionary, who succeeded agaist the chances. Nobody would have guess a dime on the success of his enterprise. Usually in need of cash and on the sting of the precipice, luck or ‘baraka’ as we are saying in Arabic, all the time got here to his assist to save lots of him from collapse.

He lived the life he all the time wished. He had numerous triumphs, in addition to many disappointments. However his political and editorial instincts proved him proper. On this regard, he was virtually all the time proper. Few males could be so pleased with such an illustrious profession.

I rarely noticed Béchir indisposed. He was as lively as ever till his sudden hospitalisation in March.

BBY has been a grasp  – listened to and browse by generations of Africans. I, we, owe him loads.

Relaxation in peace.

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