Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Olive Nelson | The hijacking cameraman

Published:Tuesday | October 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Olive Nelson

Presenters (usually people with busy schedules) who sacrifice time and effort to hand out prizes at award functions deserve to be seen and heard by the honourees. They are usually invited to do the honours at these events because of their role-model credentials.

Too often in recent years, we see them struggling to communicate a word of congratulation or encouragement only to be rudely ignored by an awardee whose sole intention is to yank away the prize be it medal, certificate, trophy or fortified envelope the faster to face the stalking cameraman.

In most of these cases, there will be no eye contact with the presenter, no opportunity to engage the recipient even minimally, and certainly no suggestion of gratitude.

It is a most ungracious way to accept anything and should be actively discouraged by the people who lead our institutions of learning and the various arms of our sporting fraternity. Who would have thought that such advice could be ever justifiably directed at the organisers of the premier awards-giving event in this country - the National Heroes Day awards function?

Even the most casual observer of this year's King's House event could not avoid the conclusion that this batch of awardees had been instructed to momentarily face the cameraman while receiving their award. Whatever went wrong with candid shots? While a few of the recipients were able to navigate fairly comfortably between the various protocols, for many, it was a total disaster.

Executing the basic bowing and handshaking protocols in previous years had always seemed somewhat of a challenge for many awardees, especially those of senior years.

This year, the additional camera-facing requirement proved too much for too many. It was a clear, if unintended, invitation to diss the award-presenting governor general (GG) in order to facilitate a whimsical initiative.

Of course, this detracted significantly from the solemnity of the occasion.

The result was quite grotesque in some cases - more persons forgetting the bowing requirement and returning to deliver it belatedly, most persons trying unnaturally to face the camera while heeding the GG, and at least one person (apparently unable to make up his mind as to whether a bow constituted a lowering or elevation of the chin) bobbing his head up and down all the way throughout his award-collecting performance.

The relevant authorities should ensure that future national honourees are spared the dilemma of having to balance the new 'face-the-camera' prescription against the need to promote good manners at the highest level by giving due attention to the award presenter. They should not have to abandon their sense of propriety in order to comply with mindless initiatives.

And while they are at it, the powers that be should also consider relieving the awardees of the bowing protocols. After all, people who are deemed to have already earned their award should not have to bow and scrape, or provide comic relief, to collect it.

- Olive Nelson is a chartered accountant. Email feedback to and