Using Pseudonym: Is It Proper Or Improper?

Ebou GayeBy Ebou Gaye

The question as to whether it is proper or improper to use a pseudonym cannot be given a straight, cogent answer such as “yes” or “no” without elaboration. Therefore, I deem it fitting to do some analysis and make comments in my attempt to answer it convincingly.

First and foremost, I would like to point out that I have never used a pseudonym, neither in the social media nor in the press. I have been using my name and photo since I started writing as a novelist and feature writer in 1997. I have taken this stance for the simple reason that I want to assume responsibility for my writings and do not see the need to use a pen mane.

Nonetheless, I understand and respect the position of some of those who have chosen to be anonymous in their activities. It is common knowledge that some writers, freedom fighters and activists have used pseudonyms and contributed immensely to political and socio-economic development. The renowned, reputable politician Nelson Mandela and the prolific British writer Eric Blair, the author of the famous novel Animal Farm can be cited as examples in this regards, among many others. They have used the pseudonyms David Motsamayi and George Orwell respectively. Is it reasonable and fair to disregard or ignore the meritorious services they have rendered to humanity and denounce them for merely using pseudonyms? Certainly not! It is an open secret that many Gambians have used the online media pseudonymously for long time before coming out of their closets to openly champion democracy, justice and respect for human rights. It is also a well-known, irrefutable fact that some contributors in our crusade have always been anonymous, doing a wonderful job. It can be argued that this category of people use pseudonyms for security or other reasons that are not malicious. Thus, they deserve commendation and cheers, not condemnation and jeers.

However, many people hide behind pen names to bully, harass, malign, intimidate, detract, distract or frustrate those they perceive as enemies, rivals or opponents. These people are big cowards. Pure and Simple! They are undesirable elements, for they pose a threat to peace and retard development by using pseudonyms maliciously.

To recapitulate, I would say that using a pseudonym can be proper just as it can be improper, depending on the purpose for which it is used. Hence, there shouldn’t be blanket endorsement or denunciation on the issue. Those who use pseudonyms with good intention shouldn’t be condemned, nor should they be frightened off. If we are really interested in liberating ourselves and creating a just society for the benefit of all, as we claim, we should encourage them to continue contributing their quota in the noble cause of combatting dictatorship, or at least leave them in peace. Those who use pseudonyms to discourage, scared away or neutralize freedom fighters are doing more harm than good to themselves and their compatriots in general, as no one is safe or secure under a dictatorship. Anybody can fall victim anytime in a society where injustice prevails. The earlier those ill-intentioned, misguided people realize this and desist from their obnoxious, detestable acts and join the bandwagon of the crusaders, the better for us all. They have been brainwashed, and they have remained in their deep sleep for too long. What a pity!



  1. deyda haidara

    Ebou, I agree with your article. However if you visit 99% of world wide website forums you will find people pseudo names even the most democratic countries such as Senegal’s seneweb are not an exception.
    Having said that if any of Deyda Haidara’s family ask me not to use their Dad name in this online forum with name and picture as evidence, then I will change and use the name “Yotox” Lol! Do you remember yotox the mosquitoe killer…yeh then I spray those mosquitoes in Banjul and beyond with this toubab juju call “Yotox”
    On a more serious note, I am simply using the name Deyda Haidara to keep “Good Morning Mr. President” column at Point newspaper alive which made the Kanilai beast hate him to death. I want to keep his spirit alive so that young folk keep asking about the “Nyancho” the “guru” of freedom of speech in Gambian media history.
    I hope my brother Janko Camara will not say, you see because Ebou Gaye is a wolloff name reason why he agrees with him..LOL!

  2. Great piece and advise. Appreciated . We do have huge responsibility as citizens to educate our people about military dictatorship and how to free ourselves. We must never used our pen to intimidate each other . I know the dictator is always online at night when he is not raping various young girls , he and his agents should know that we want better gambia. We will never rest or quit till we have victory .

  3. Binta Saidy

    Thank you Ebou. You are right, some of this anonymous writers keep attacking Isatou Njie-Saidy for doing her job. They need to concentrate on real issues. This Deyda Haidara and Max are very jealous and bitter. Thank you Ebou once again.

    • deyda haidara

      Binta, if your Isatou Njie Saidy’s job is to praise sing a killer and a thief for the past 18 years, then she is complicit and should better quit the job before it’s TOO late.
      Isatou has a lot questions to answer in post Jammeh era. There are thousands of Gambian women but none are doing what Isatou is doing in aiding and abaiting a brutal, heartless killer known the world over.
      All international HR NGO have written volume on human right abuses in the Gambia. Who killed Deyda Haidara by the way?
      If you truely love Isatu tell her to run away.

      • @Binta Saidy, what the wreck you think BINTA SAIDY means to me??, for exampl……….. Is that because is one name that looks to belong in Gambian?? Do you know what it means by willfully working for a dictatorship as vice president?? Binta, I am optimistic that in time, many Gambians will develop with regards to their mentality and perceiption of nationhood and democracy.That naive way you are seeing things by saying, ( ANONYMOUS WRITERS KEEP ATTACKING ISATOU NJIE SAIDY FOR HER JOB)………………her job??? Damn!! I can bet you love the money throw for praises. Write something material to attempt to convince me that Isatou Njie Saidy shouldn’t be criticised if you are not suffering from the inability to express one self which usually is caused by limited vocabulary. I have not missed the point when I said you shouldn’t be taking her for a FAMILY-DREAM-COME-TRUE and thats exactly what your behaviour is proving now not to mention your lack of respect as well by taking me and those it may concern for clowns, taking for granted BINTA SAIDY should mean a thing to us. You can call the praise singer from Mali for Njie Saidy but that is not going to affect the smart Gambian’s opinion as far as dictators and their shoe-kissers are concerned.

  4. People use pseudo & pennames for various reasons…

    I for one, use mine, an alias of my real name, for two reasons; one because I need no limelight for contributing my quota in the struggle to reclaim salvage the motherland; & for avoiding the unnecessary Murderous kanilai DEVIL persecution, for my family, friends, colleagues, associates & sources, in this NOBLE struggle of ours…

    Just tactical approaches, to contribute my quota to nation building, & humanity advancement in general, without much implicating the innocent people, related, known & associated to me…

    Binta, Isatou nije saidy is “hands in glove” with the Murderous kanilai yaya Killer DEVIL; she accepted a job, out of aid-abetting murderous tyrannical oppression against the majority of innocent Gambians; she ISN’T decent at all; she can choose to make Gambia & world at large better for humanity; she too, will reap what she’s sowing…

    Insha Allah

  5. Mr. Ebou, apart from what you are writing now, what do you think your name and picture means to me?? You probably will not know some of these anonymous participants real name even in post dictatorship, because names and picturing are not what they are doing it for. How about I say, ‘the NIA is infiltrating the dissident online media? Tell me something,……………………….will you appreciate it if I write my real name, ‘Michael Sissoko’ ?? Ebou, agree or disagree with what you read online is my advice to all participants. I, for instance would not appreciate the anonymous writers who will say, ‘no more this and that’, or write a commanding phrase like a dictator and will maliciously shut up like a cell.

  6. Binta saidy , I have no personal issue with Isatou Njie saidy nor her family . I talk about issues affecting Gambians and how she support jammeh to continue to oppress Gambians . What are the real issues we should concentrate on apart from atrocities and human rights violations of Gambians ?

  7. Binta, you are dead wrong; i am afraid.

    Isatou Njie Saidy is attacked (criticized) not because her person is disliked or hated. But because she occupies public space for which she is paid (handsomely), accommodated, fed and guarded 24/7 at the Gambian tax payer’a expense. Her open public record shows she is enjoying it. Therefore she is a legitimate target for criticism; and even satire, especially if she is not doing her job properly. Isatou, just like her boss, the Professor of evil, is a “real issue” worth concentrating on. She has a choice. But she is not off the menu.

  8. Binta saidy , I am neither jealous nor bitter about Isatou Njie saidy because I have better education and great career than her children . Lamin saidy did not even have a college diploma , why should I be jealous or bitter about Isatou Njie saidy . A woman who careless about her children future . My little dog Buba knows that I am very compassionate guy because I care about him . I love and care about Gambia too , that is why I am against corruption , human rights abuses and dictatorship .

  9. Binta saidy , you are just a bully . You are here to distract and harrass people . You have not contributed anything significant . Can you tell us why do you think Isatou Njie is good Vice President ? An idiot like you are the very problem we have dictatorship in The Gambia .

  10. I think Mr Ebou Gaye has made very good observations and valid points…I think he is right to advise against the use of pseudonyms inappriately…

    I agree entirely with Bajaw for the reasons he advanced for anonymity…

    As for Madam Isatou Njie Saidy, I think she has only herself to blame for her negative perception in the eyes of many people…

    She may have had good intentions for accepting to work with Yaya Jammeh, but she should have had the good sense of judgement to step down, once things start to take a wrong turn, beginning from April 10th/11th or even earlier..

    And worst, she committed the gravest blunder when she went on public airwaves to blame demonstrators for the slaughter of their own members…

    Even though it was just a statement she was reading from the government, it changed her perception in the eyes of many people, from being this respectable, religious and pious woman into this wicked and silent hypocrite, who will shamelessly lie to justify the murder of innocent school children…

    I don’t know whether Binta Saidy is related to her, but I do sympathise with families, friends and relatives of all officials, who occupy high places in this APRC government and are seen in one negative light or the other…

    And I will once again urge restraint in our reactions to comments or contributions from family members of these state officials (present & past)….

    Yes, we should all be guided by the National Interest, but as the saying goes,”blood is thicker than water” and it hurts to see a family member being mentioned in certain negative ways..

    The struggle should not be about individuals, no matter how high profile they may be…It should be about the system and the issues emanating from the system and how to achieve our objectives of ending it for the good all, including these state officials and.their families..

    • deyda haidara

      Bax I do not agree with the last part of your posting. The system does not exist in VACCUM, it is individuals and groups that are actors of the system and therefore liable to exposure. We all know people are very much interrelated in small Gambia, all the much REASON for one to exercise restrain and one not to engage in enabling openly or clandestinely aiding the beast to perpetuate a killer’s regime for 21 awful years.
      Isatou is no2 in the list of WANTED Gambians in post Jammeh era.

  11. Bax said ” I don’t know whether Binta saidy is related to her , but I do sympathize with families , friends and relatives of all officials , who occupy high places in this Aprc government and are seen in one negative light or the other ”
    Bax , the question you should be asking ” why are these officials seen in negative light by the public rather than shedding crocodile tears or sympathize with families and friends ?” Don’t you think the real people who deserve sympathy are the victims of these officials who are powerless ? You sound like Yankuba Colley in this instance. What makes you think that families and friends deserve sympathy since they are not directly involved when their loved ones in pubic offices carry out policies that are bad for the people , atrocities and crimes against Gambians. I think your sympathy is misplaced . So it means you sympathize with zaniab yaya Jammeh and her children even though her husband has killed so many Gambians , looted Millions of dollars from gambia , detained thousands without trials , disappeared many and exiled thousands . Sometimes when you write , I scratch my head and say there he go again but in all seriousness Don’t you think it is good idea to find out if they supported these Public officials before you sympathize with them ? I think that is what you should do first before you offer blanket sympathy .

  12. Haidara , you are right . Bax failed to understand that there are people who are in the positions of responsibility in the system . This is where accountability and transparency comes in . People are responsible for the system and the issues involved . Oh Bax , Jammeh would love to have you as his propaganda secretary because you are so sympathetic to his family and that of public officials . Lol

  13. DH…

    I think you can look at it either way…Individuals make systems work but systems also regulate the behaviour of individuals working within it…

    If systems are weak, then individuals who are inclined to behave in certain ways will do so, regardless of the consequences, and may even get away with it…

    Take the cases of economic crimes in our courts today..? Look at the latest involving the trio of Mr Ebrima Jawara and Co. ..

    Did the previous prosecutions deter them.? What about the emails in Freedom Newspaper..?

    How about the Auditor General’s Reports of unsupported payments that get highlighted every year ?

    What about arrests/kidnaps and.detentions beyond the legal limit.?

    How many IG’s (Police)/DG’s (NIA), Army Head (GNA) etc did we have..? Has it changed anything..?

    Individuals have changed but because the system has remained, we continue to have the same problems..

    Of course, individuals are responsible for their actions and I am.not against naming and shaming those that are found to have done wrong…

    But I am of the view that without a good system of checks, balances and controls, we will always be dealing with the same chronic problems… Nevertheless, I respect your view..

  14. Maxs…

    I don’t need to.ask those questions because I think I know why officials are perceived negatively…In.any case, my sympathy is not for the officials but rather, their innocent family members who have to deal with the constant negativity against their own blood..including even insults that touch them all…

    Maxs, if hypothetically, your brother was a high officer in.the government who constantly gets insulted, including insults directed at his parents, would that hurt you.? I bet it would.because it’s your parents that are being insulted too…

    My view is that your brother should be named and shamed for the issues that concern him but no one should take the liberty to direct their anger and frustrations at people who are related to him but have done no one any wrong…

    In that regard, I have a great deal of sympathy for Jammeh’s innocent children and other relatives who are not involved in his maladministration because I don’t subscribe to the concept of collective punishment…

    Will I be.a good “propaganda secretary” for Jammeh..? I think you are contradicting yourself…

    If my sympathy is not genuine but fake (shedding crocodile tears) then Jammeh better not appoint me as propaganda secretary because I am fake…not genuine..

  15. By the way, Zainab is not an.innocent bystander in Jammeh’s maladministration of.our country…She has an insatiable appetite for our public funds and so she gets no sympathy from me…Her children though, being minors with no personal responsibilities for their parents’ behaviour, have a great deal of sympathy from me…

    Because my principle is for protection of ALL children, without exception, and nothing will change that…

  16. Bax, Being in a leadership positions comes with huge responsibilities and consequences whether the Leaders is in The Gambia , UK or USA . The consequences including constant negativities against the leaders and their families . Therefore one has to have thick skin to be in leadership positions . If my brother is in leadership position and people insult my parents , the only thing I will do is to be tolerance and develop thick skin though I will be mad and unhappy about it . President Obama gets letters from Americans , in those letters they called him an idiot, a liar , a loser or terrorist but he still reply to their letters . He doesn’t like it but he can’t do nothing about it . Negativity is part and parcel of public officials job description because people will criticize and some will insult leaders resulting from their emotional outburst . If they don’t like it then let them remain as private citizens .
    Bax , nobody is calling for collective punishment of anyone but people do have rights to express their anger at leaders . Your sympathy is misplaced and should be directed to victims of public officials .

  17. Maxs. …I have absolutely no problem agreeing with your view that leadership positions come with responsibilities…and that criticisms from citizens and non citizens, is part of the life of public office holders….

    Criticism of public office holders should only be acceptable if directed at the public office holder and those who aid and assist him….not at innocent individuals or associates just because of their association to the public official…

    It is such associates that I have sympathy for and I don’t see how that can be misplaced….

    As for victims of public officials, I don’t only have sympathy for them, but I am also very concerned that we have a system that tolerates victimisation, for whatever reason, and I would be among those who will call for the immediate redress of all cases of abuse to be priority of any future government….

  18. As for developing a “thick skin”, you really don’t have much choice when you are dealing with “faceless” and “nameless” people on a public forum, but that is not the point…

    The point is…..if you were an active member of that forum and your brother was as “guilty” as Yaya Jammeh, and was constantly attracting negative comments and the occasional barrage of insults, how would you contribute ?

    Would you respond like Bax, who says live the family alone and concentrate on Mr “Maxs’ brother” and the issues affecting him…..or contribute like Maxs and consider all his family as “fair game”, including Maxs… reveal confidential information about your siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, as a way of getting at your brother.. ?

    Would you reveal intimate information about yourself..? After all, you will be fair game.

    • @Bax, if I were in Jammeh’s or Isatou Njie Saidy’s family members’ shoe, the wisest thing I would have done is not defending them in public critisisms but shut up.
      Side with your family. How would I know that one of these names here is not a pseudonym?? Come on guys what all the curiousity about??

  19. Bax, I think your questions are indeed very silly and stupid to say the least Because none of my family ever work for the government or are in public office ? Only crazy people will reveal their sexual habit online . Are you going to reveal your sexual life , brother and anyone of your loved ones online? So I decided to reveal Jammeh’s sexually life and that of his family medical problems , you don’t like that . How would you feel if jammeh sexually abused your siblings or sisters or Any of your closed family members ? Would you expose your father or sister if they were in the position of Isatou Njie saidy ? I think sometimes you just like to argue without using your brain . The mere fact that you sympathize with Jammeh’s family and those officials and their families who committed crimes tell a lot about your efforts in this struggle . Why do you have to sympathize with their families , do you know if they supported their loved ones when they committed those crimes ? That is question you should ask yourself first before offering your blanket sympathy ? if your father is killed like others , would you offer your damn sympathy to stupid officials families who are accused of committing those crimes ? Put yourself to the position of those victims first before you sympathize with families whose relatives are responsible for those crimes . That is what honest and decent people will do first . I am sure if your father or mother is murder or sexually abused , you won’t offer sympathy to families of these public officials .Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you. Treat people the way you wanted to be treated .

  20. Bax, the fact that you offered your sympathy to families of public officials who committed heinous crimes against Gambians without first finding out whether those families supported their loved ones during the time their relatives occupied those offices indicated highest hypocrisy , intolerance , wicketness , cruel , and lack of empathy. Don’t you know there are some family members who supported their loved ones when they committed crimes and they never come out in public to condemn their loved ones . I bet if your parents are murdered or sexually abused , disappeared, raped and exiled without committing any crime or if you are simply tortured because of your view , you won’t be here to offer sympathy to public officers’ families who are not directly involved in those crimes . Which one is worst , a criticism and negativity to public officers families or murder , sexually abused , disappearance or tortured victims ? Any right thinking human being will tell you is murder , tortured , sexually Abused and disappearance victims and their families . Those are the very one who deserve geniune and honest empathy and sympathy but not families who feel negativity because of criticism of public officials . Therefore , your rigid and narrow-minded view is completely a garbage to right thinking human beings . Empathy and honesty are greatest qualities of decent human being . If you truly care about The Gambian people who are victims of this regime such as 14 year old yusupa Lowe , meta Njie , father of chief Ebrima manneh , koro Ceesay , Lt Lowe , Lt Alieu Ceesay , and young girls who are raped by jammeh , women who were sexually abused and kidnaped by jammeh , the families of these victims deserve your sympathy and empathy first . Yaya Jammeh and his famlies and all his officials who had direct involvement in crimes against innocent citizens didn’t deserve any sympathy from any one unless you are Aprc supporter. As I said before , nobody is calling for collective punishment of anyone but no families of those who committed crimes deserve sympathy either . I hope you get that in your head . Bax , a genuine and true freedom fighter and human rights campion care for victims but in your case you care for the families of dictator jammeh and his officials . Using PSEUDOYNM as pretext to divert , distract and harass individuals intellectually and the same time act as a opposition sympathizer is not going to work here . As you write , your true identity will naturally manifest itself in this forum . Mere fact that I wrote about Jammeh’s mentally retarded sick kid and greedy wife , irritated you , you are just seeing the beginning . Just call statehouse and if you find out Jammeh’s child is not suffering from Down syndrome and he is not mentally retarded , I will give you ten thousands dollars ( $10,000). I will contact kaironews with my full picture , address and telephone number to effect that promise . Sit in your little apartment and drink tea and stop talking garbage .

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