2006 Democracy Award


On June 27, the National Endowment for Democracy presented its annual Democracy Award to four democratic activists from Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, and Sudan.

The four recipients of the 2006 Democracy Award were:

  • Zainab Bangura
  • Alfred Taban
  • Immaculée Birhaheka
  • Reginald Matchaba-Hove

The event, which included a roundtable discussion with regional experts and members of Congress addressing the topic “Africa’s Democratic Prospects,” included remarks by:

  • Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky
  • Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)
  • Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
  • Vin Weber, Chairman NED
  • Carl Gershman, NED President

“The challenge that faces Africa today is how to build strong, democratic institutions. By and large, I do believe that the prospects for democracy in Africa are great, and its train has no reverse gear; it will only move forward,” declared Zainab Bangura, a seasoned activist for good governance, human rights, and accountability in her native Sierra Leone, who now serves as Chief Civil Affairs Officer to the UN Mission in Liberia. In 1995, she founded Women Organized for a Morally Enlightened Nation (W.O.M.E.N), Sierra Leone’s first non-partisan women’s political rights organization. She played a vital role in the campaign against the military junta, the 1996 elections and Lomé peace accord.

Immaculée Birhaheka is the co-founder and president of Promotion and Support of Women’s Initiatives (PAIF), an organization she created in the city of Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1995, and is one of the Congo’s leading human rights activists. Despite civil war, volcanic eruptions, and political repression, Ms. Birhaheka has been dedicated to protecting and promoting women’s rights, visiting political prisoners and seeking improvements in the conditions of their detention, and leading efforts to end the massive rape of women and girls in eastern Congo.

Reginald Matchaba-Hove
 is a leading human rights activist in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. His career has focused on empowering Zimbabweans to protect fundamental civil rights, ensuring free, fair, and transparent democratic elections, and facilitating the provision of basic social services. He currently serves as the chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Alfred Taban has served as the publisher and chairman of the board of directors of the Khartoum Monitor, Sudan’s only independent English-language daily newspaper, since it began publication in September 2000. In that capacity, he has been one of the leading non-violent voices of Sudan’s dispossessed and marginalized communities, as well as an advocate for national reconciliation, human rights, and democracy.

Commending the awardees, NED President Carl Gershman remarked, “The hope for Africa is that there is now an awakened civil society that is represented by the people here today who make up the internal bulwark of democracy.”


We would like to thank the following for their contribution toward this event:

The Hurford Foundation

American Federation of Teachers
Judy and Gilbert Shelton

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.
The Whitehead Foundation

We also wish to acknowledge the gracious assistance of John Brademas, Mark and Sushma Palmer, and Thomas Marsh.


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