By Alhassan Darboe:
Gambia Press Union recently held a glamorous awards ceremony to honor journalists who have made an impact and blazed trails in the fast-changing and competitive media landscape in The Gambia. Mustapha Darboe, the Vice president of GPU and journalist with Kerr Fatou won a couple of awards leading many to questioning the integrity of the awards. According to reliable sources, Fatou Touray, the CEO of Kerr Fatou was the campaign manager for the current GPU executive leading many to question whether they awarded her company staff to pay for the efforts she put into getting them elected into office. Critics dubbed the awards ‘mbojo mbojo’ awards ceremony where friends got together to share awards among themselves.
Writing in reference to G.P.U awards ceremony, Fatu Camara, the proprietor of The Fatu Network writes: “Please spare me with this GPU award wahala..The GPU president has blocked The Fatu Nework News editor, Lamin Njie and I on Facebook right after he verbally assaulted Lamin. This right here gives you an idea about how he sees us. The Fatu Network DOES NOT need an award from GPU to validate our work, Gambians and the world know and thats enough for us……You don’t want people to go after you, do the right thing”
Also writing on Facebook, Femi Mahoney wondered: “…GPU...So the Journalists organised and decided to share the awards and prizes amongst themselves? How can the best award goes to the Vice president of the GPU? Is the VP not part of the Executive with insight to the decision making? It’s like cooking food for a crowd but at the cooks decided to eat the food themselves. Then, you have to apply for the award too.”
In a bid to clarify the allegations surrounding the recent GPU awards, Gunjur News Online contacted the President of GPU, Sheriff Bojang Junior for his reactions to the suggestion that GPU conspired among themselves to handover literally 95% of the GPU awards to Kerr Fatou at the expense of other equally qualified media entities, and this is what he had to say: “You may wanna contact Essau Williams of the BBC (a judge) or Musa Sise, the president of the sports journalists association and the chair of the board. As GPU President I had nothing to do with who won and who didn’t. Same goes to every other GPU executive member, your choice”
Speaking to Gunjur News Online, Secretary General of GPU, Saikou Jammeh clarifies, “The award started in 2016. The competition is open to all journalists working in The Gambia. Individual journalists apply, not media houses. Applicants send their entries to the GPU. These are compiled and handed to the jury compromising independent media experts. This year’s juries include Agnes Thomasi, who heads West Africa Democracy Radio in Dakar. Also Esau Williams of the BBC, Aisha Dabo, a media consultant, Hassoum Ceesay, Nana Grey Johnson and Abdoulie Kurang, a lecturer at the UTG.”
Saikou Jammeh added: “Mustapha Darboe won the awards. The guy has been dominating well before he joined Kerr Fatou. As SG, I only get to know the winners at the events. I get surprised like everyone because the judges are so independent that they don’t event talk to me”
Efforts to reach Fatou Touray of Kerr Fatou were unsuccessful as we head to press. Fatou Touray of Kerr Fatou and Fatou Camara of The Fatu Network are currently engaged in a bitter rivalry to dominate the media space in The Gambia and beyond. Confirmed reports reaching us has it that the two once close friends are not in talking terms and avoid each other at all cost.