Breaking News:Gambian Journalist Wins CNN Award
Gambian Journalist Wins CNN Award
Gambian journalist, Musa Saidykhan, has once again added another feather on his cap by winning the prestigious CNN MultiChoice 2007 African Journalist Award. Mr. Saidykhan was few months back decorated with the Hellmann/Hammet Award, administered and coordinated by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
The MultiChoice Awards launched by CNN International in 1995 is the most prestigious journalism competition on the African continent. The competition was initiated to honor and encourage best African print, TV, radio, online and photo journalists and freelancers living and working on the African continent for African media. It recognizes journalistic work that demonstrates courage and integrity and enhances the cause of media freedom.
At a scheduled glittering ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, Mr. Saidykhan will be among the continent’s sixteen other sons of the ink to be honoured with prestigious awards of different categories. Musa is mandated to grace the occasion with three people be they friends, colleagues or family members.
Before the awards ceremony, finalists have been invited to interact with judges, attend workshops to discuss journalism in Africa as well as network with the continent’s best journalists for a week.
The continental media watchdog, The African Editor’s Forum (TAEF) nominated Mr. Saidykhan for the award, mainly because of his unflinching and pivotal stance for promoting press freedom in Africa, particularly The Gambia. He has played a leading role in uplifting the standard of Gambian journalism, fighting injustice, dictatorship as well as give voice to the voiceless.
The 33-year-old versatile journalist has edited several publications, including The Gambia’s popular bi-weekly newspaper, The Independent until its illegal closure by the state on March 28 last year. The closure followed the arrest and detention of Editor Saidykhan, Madi Ceesay and Lamin Fatty, general manager and reporter, respectively.
For security reasons, Musa fled the country three weeks after his release from horrendous detention conditions, which were marred by nights of systematic, physical and mental tortures. The torture has left several marks all over his body.
“It has never been my intention to leave behind my beloved editorial desk in the hands of perpetrators, especially at a time when my services were needed the most. But I was left with choosing between life and death. I also believe that future holds bright for me wherever I find my self in,” he said.
Mr. Saidykhan has since then been living in Senegal where he has been busy with making good use of his wealth of journalism skills and experience. He currently heads the West Africa Department of afrol News Agency.
The Gambian editor was earlier on contracted to coordinate the administrative affairs of TAEF in Senegal for four months. His terms of reference include a research of restrictive media laws in Africa – laws that are not in conformity with those of the African Union and other international conventions.
“Frankly speaking, this award is bigger than me as an individual,” he smilingly reacted, adding, “It’s a victory for Gambian journalism and journalists who have been putting their lives on the firing line to deliver news to a news-hungry population. It’s really timely because it comes at a time when we are seriously setting the agenda for reclaiming justice and media freedom in a land once seen as the bastion of everything good – hope, democracy, rule of law, media freedom, human rights.”
“I must thank my colleagues of TAEF, especially Mathatha T-sedu, the body’s chairman for his nomination. I am delighted that my little efforts have been recognized by people beyond the borders of my country,” he said, extending “appreciation to colleagues both home and abroad for their undivided solidarity with me throughout my difficult days. My lovely family also deserves a tag on the back.”
He exhorts his colleagues to remain steadfast in defending the ethics of journalism, no matter whose ox is gored. “Let them know that the world is watching us, so whatever we – good or bad – mean something else in the future. And like every professional, a journalist also stands to enjoy the fruit of their labour. Our profession is noble in every sense, despite the countless risks involved.”
Mr. Saidykhan began his career at The Daily Observer in 1997 as a cub-reporter. He moved fast to become the paper’s utility staff reporter in 1999. He was among the 12 journalists who downed their tools in protest against Observer management’s attempt to infiltrate the paper’s editorial policy.
Musa also worked for The Point, Citizen FM, New Citizen and The Entrepreneur. He edited The Inquirer, The Nation, Gambia Post – a US-based online newspaper and Effective Communication – Gambia’s first-ever privately owned news agency.

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2007 (Archive on Monday, May 21, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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