As one of the most oppressed institution during the past two decades of Jammeh’s reign, the Gambia media fraternity is getting a much needed recognition. With new media chiefs in town at the ministry of information and Gambia Radio and Television Services, Gambia’s fourth estate got a family reunion treat by the ministry of information and it’s staff. The reception was held in place of the regular monthly media briefing by the minister of information Demba A. Jawo. Invitations were extended to all media chiefs and members of the press including Gambia Diaspora online news media. Jawo added that his ministry is aware of the draconian media laws in the constitution and they are working in tangent with the Gambia press union and other media partners to ensure that those media laws are repealed. Jawo recognized the presence of Gainako newspaper associate editor and his wife at the gathering on behalf of the Diaspora Online Media. He also recognized the presence of his predecessor Sheriff Bojang who has given him valuable advice since he became a minister.
In addressing the room full of media personnel, Minister Jawo said the gathering at the Gambia Hospitality and Tourism Institute in Kanifing was an idea conceived by his new Media Consultant and special adviser to the minister Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh. Jawo said the reception was informal and was meant to get the media fraternity together to interact and share a meal. Mr. Cherno Jallow one of Gambia’s media Doyen in his opening remarks said today marks 126th Anniversary of first newspaper publication in the Gambia. He welcomed Gambian journalists to the new Gambia and added that the media’s own member is the minister of information. Mr. Jallow celebrated the presence of three members of the media who are elected to the National Assembly. He asked for support for the information minister and his staff in promoting media freedom in the Gambia. Jallow concluded that Gambian media should remember to celebrate the 13 students who were killed along with Omar Barrow a student journalist, Deydah Hydara and others.
On his part, Director General of Gambia Radio and Television Services Mr. Ebrima Sillah in his brief address said this was an emotional day for him. He said many Gambian journalists were forced out of the country and could not return to the country for over a decade. Sillah said this gathering is a great opportunity to build stronger relationships between Gambian Journalists and the New Government in the Gambia. Emil Touray President of the Gambia Press Union also addressed the crowd and expressed his optimism for the future of the media in the Gambia.
The occasion marks a new beginning between the new government in the Gambia and Gambian Journalists. The importance of a cordial relationship between the press and the government cannot be over emphasized. The media suffered the most in the hands of the Jammeh regime. Almost every journalists in that room either went to jail or was subjected to some serious torture and intimidation. Their stories are so hard to hear that these people deserve every support they can get for staying in the country and face the challenges. They are distinguished citizens who stood when few would, they spoke and kept the fire burning while many dare to say something.
In his closing remarks one of Gambia’s renowned radio journalist Peter Gomez said the relationship between journalists and the government should be an open and honest relationship. He said it is Journalists’ responsibility to report positive things the government is doing and at the same time be critical and demand answers where the government failed to live up to its promises. Mr. Gomez thank the gathering for staying the course and keeping the public informed accordingly.
The gathering without a doubt is the beginning of a new era between the government of the Gambia and the media fraternity. It is a breath of fresh air to have a true member of the media who is fully conscious of the role of the media and what Gambian journalists had to go through. The media in turn is optimistic that with new chiefs at the ministry of information and GRTS will foster better relationship for a complete repeal of draconian media laws. Many are optimistic that with the presence of Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Aisha Davis and some level headed Gambian media heads, the media’s difficult days are behind them. The dinner and the reception was outstanding as well.
By Demba Baldeh to contact the editor email us at Gainakoradio@gmail.com