Mr. Pap Saine, Proprietor and Editor-in-Chief of The Point Newspaper (The Gambia) made the following statement at the Annual Convention of The National Association of Black Journalists Of America FOR THE Percy Qoboza Award in Miami, Florida , USA from 7TH TO 11TH August 2019.
The Chair and Co-Chair of the Global Journalism Task Force,
Members of the National Association of Black Journalists,
Ladies and gentlemen
It is with pride and honor, but with humility that I accept the Percy Qoboza Award of the National Association of Black Journalists of America. I am grateful for the honor and will use the award as a source of inspiration and fresh impetus to continue to strive for excellence in journalism.
The world in which we practice our trade is fraught with challenges and dangers. As journalists, we are the voice of the voiceless. We are the educators and informers, but crucially, we are the wardens who hold governments to account and ensure that our societies uphold the virtues of propriety and moral rectitude. These are competing priorities essential to human peaceful co- existence, yet in promoting them to create a viable and equitable society, journalists are often harassed, physically attacked and in many cases killed.
As you gather in Miami for the convention and as you ponder, discuss and exchange ideas on journalism and its role in society, I urge you to remember our colleagues around the world who have died in the line of duty or are languishing in the jails of despots and dictators. The only way we can immortalize them is to continue to defend and uphold the truth, to propagate democracy and the rule of law and to be the frontline advocates for tolerance and respect for individual liberties. As journalist, it is our role to fight and eliminate prejudice and misguided supremacist tendencies, which are the two evils that are escalating tensions in the world.
My dear brothers and sisters,
In The Gambia, Journalism has played a pivotal role, in defeating a Dictator, who for twenty-years, enslaved our people. Freedom and civil liberties were suppressed. Freedom of speech and of assembly was denied. Extra-judicial executions or forced disappearances of journalists were commonplace. In essence, injustice and impunity were the order of the day. It was the darkest period in the history of the Gambia.
It took us twenty-two years to uproot that evil dictatorship. I and many others experienced jail, torture and deprivation. Today, there is a New Gambia with a democratic dispensation that promises a brighter future. Thanks to the resilience of Gambian journalists and the unflinching support of our international colleagues like the Association of Black Journalists.
My brothers and sisters,
As a Pan-Africanist who shares the same profession and passion, I wish to convey to all delegates at the Miami convention, fraternal greetings. My message to all black Journalists is that we should team-up and build bridges that will bring collaboration and synergy in our work. The Gambia is the country of Kunta Kinteh and I wish to encourage my brothers and sisters in Journalism to endeavor to discover their roots in The Gambia.
Once again, my sincere gratitude for the honor you have bestowed on me. As you deliberate please remember that the world will be at great risk if journalists are silent or if political power is allowed to muzzle journalists. “The Pen is mightier than the sword” and we as journalists are the hope of the world. I wish you a successful convention and may God bless you all.