Wojciech Jagielski (journalist)

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Wojciech Jagielski

Wojciech Jagielski (born 12 September 1960[1]) is a Polish journalist and correspondent.[2] He has won acclaim for his reports on journeys to the world's worst trouble spots. From 1991 to 2012, he worked for a leading Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza (Electoral Gazette), was a BBC correspondent,[2] and occasional contributor to Le Monde.[2] He reported mainly from conflict zones in the Transcaucasus, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa.[2] His writing continues the tradition of reportage of Ryszard Kapuscinski, Jagielski’s mentor and friend.[3][4]


Jagielski graduated from a high school named after Wladyslaw IV in Warsaw and he graduated from the Faculty of Political Science at Warsaw University. He studied political science, but when the declaration of martial law in Poland in 1981 introduced the obligation to attend all classes, he chose individual programs and took up African studies. After graduation he briefly worked in television, then from December 1986 for the Polish Press Agency.[2] He wanted to report on Africa, but the station managers were not too interested in this topic. From then, he decided that the Caucasus would become his second specialization. In 1991 he moved to the Gazeta Wyborcza, for which he wrote until the end of March 2012. He lives in Zalesie near Warsaw.[5]


In 2004 he published a book, A good place to die (Dobre miejsce do umierania),[2] about his years travelling through the Caucasus and Transcaucasian regions during the fall of the Soviet Empire and the creation of new independent countries.[6]

Published in 2002, Pray for the Rain (Modlitwa o deszcz),[2] about Afghanistan, was nominated for the NIKE Award 2003, got an Amber Butterfly in the Arkady Fiedler Competition and the Józef Tischner Award. It was the result of eleven trips to Afghanistan, which took place between spring 1992 and the autumn of 2001. The book is a chronicle of the rise and fall of regimes in Afghanistan and a description of the bloody and fratricidal wars. The main subjects of the book are well-known names such as Osama bin Laden, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mullah Omar and Najibullah Zazi.[7]

His book Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya,[2] won the Italian Literatura Frontera Award in 2009 and was published in English by Seven Stories Press.[2] [8] Jagielski presents the bitter story of war in Chechnya, and the conflict between groups of warriors with their leaders: Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov, against the powerful Russian army.[9]

His next book, The Night Wanderers: Uganda's Children and the Lord's Resistance Army, about child soldiers in Uganda, discusses God's Army leader Joseph Kony, who claims that he was possessed by spirits and a former tyrant Idi Amin, who had styled himself the "lord of all beings."[10][11]

His most recent book to appear in English is Burning the Grass: At the Heart of Change in South Africa 1990-2011, which examines the 2010 murder of white supremacist South African leader Eugène Terre'Blanche.[12]


In 2009, in recognition of his valuable and bold reporting of international issues, Radosław Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs, awarded him Bene Merito distinction (lat. Good Merit), an honorary award given to those whose activities contribute to promoting Poland's image abroad.[13]


• Polish Journalists Association (SDP) Awards (1996)

• The Ksawery Pruszyński Award of Polish PEN Club (1996)

• The Warsaw Literary Premiere Award (2002)

• Dariusz Fikus Award (2002)[2]

• Józef Tischner Award (2003)

• Amber Butterfly in Arkady Fiedler Competition (2003)

• MediaTory Student Journalist Award (2008)

• Literatura Frontera Award (2009)[2]

He was also nominated for the Ryszard Kapuściński Award and the Nike Award.