Professor Pierre Gomez of the University of the Gambia has called the launching of the newspaper publishers association (NEPA) of the Gambia as a day of great reckoning in that he sees history of September 1971 repeating itself.
In his launch statement attended by a cross section of the international community, leaders of political parties, representatives from the AU and Ecowas, Professor Gomez noted that it should not take long for a follower of the emergence and evolution of Gambian Literature to connect the day’s event to the establishment of Ndaanan (a literary magazine) which resulted from a similar initiative as the one being witnessed.
The Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at the UTG recalled that in September 1971, the Gambia’s Writers Club including Mr Swaebou Conateh, Mr Charles Jow, Mr Hassoum Ceesay Senior, Dr Lenrie Wilfred Peters, Mr Gabriel John Roberts etc., produced the first volume of a literary publication (Ndaanan) to provide an outlet for all creative Gambian writing. According to Professor Gomez “Ndaanan provided a platform to simulate literary activities of all kinds and to provide an outlet for sharing Gambian talents in works such as short plays, essays, cartoons, photographs with commentary relating to pottery, carving, weaving and so on”.
It was for the same reason he added that he counted the launching of NEPA as yet another in the history of our great nation. Professor Gomez added that the work of an organic journalist is an essential ingredient in educating the masses. “However, we must not lose sight of the fact that this sacred duty could be compromised when certain ethical issues are not put under check”. He thanked the men and women whose efforts have made it possible and hoped that the association will live long to serve its purpose and the betterment of society and not for negative or destructive ends.
Deputising for the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, the Deputy Permanent Secretary Finance and Administration Ebrima Darbo, said the ministry has no doubt that the association will maintain professionalism and safeguard the ethics of the profession and guarantee accessibility of newspapers to every person for enhanced knowledge of what is taking place in the public domain in our new found democratic society.
Speaking earlier the interim chairman of NEPA, Sam Sarr applauded the launch of the first ever newspaper association in The Gambia citing earlier attempts in the days of Deyda Hydara. Mr. Sarr reiterated the role played by newspaper publishers noting that they are at the forefront in the dissemination of news. “Politicians, government, planners, diplomats, businesspersons and the public in general rely on newspapers for the news, therefore getting the news, reliable news for that matter, to every region of this country, indeed all over the world is our goal.”
Mr. Sarr emphasised the role of the media which is to hold the government accountable to the people. This role he said is made explicit in section 207 subsection (3) of the Constitution where it is stated: “The press and other information media shall at all times, be free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people of The Gambia.”
Mr Sarr further added NEPA’s commitment to support all effort to enact laws that promote media freedom and freedom of information, and campaign for the repealing of laws that are inimical to media freedom such as sedition, criminal libel, false publication and false news. Honourabe Madi Ceesay gave the vote of thanks while the ceremony was chaired by Malik Jones