Alagi Yorro Jallow
I am honored to have worked with a man who chronicled our time; now Secretary of State for Information and Communication, a journalist I know Mr. Demba Ali Jawo, personal and professional. And like all of you, I have benefited as a citizen from his dogged pursuit of the truth, his passionate defense of objective reporting, and his view that journalism is more than just a profession — it is a public good vital to our democracy.
What a great achievement Demba Ali Jawo you have made; you will no doubt be a wonderful inspiration to so many other journalists and media practioners. I wish you my heartfelt support for the future. The Gambian people and media fraternity needs you and all you must offer to solidify press freedom. Already you proved to be a change-maker. Congratulation on your appointment
Even in his early career, Demba Jawo resisted the temptation to get the story first in favor of getting it right. He wanted to get it first, but he understood the importance of getting it right. Demba Jawo (alias Jamanka) is the gravitas and paragon of Gambian journalists.
He lost his job – as news editor and fatwa was declared on his head; persecuted. He lived in exile and continue to being an agent of truth and justice.
So, it may have seemed inevitable that he was named the most trusted man in in The Gambia’s media fraternity. But here’s the thing: That title wasn’t bestowed on him by any media house. We weren’t told to believe it by some advertising campaign. It was earned. It was earned by year after year, and decade after decade, of painstaking effort; a commitment to fundamental values; his belief that the Gambian people were hungry for the truth, unvarnished and unaccompanied by theatre or spectacle. He didn’t believe in dumbing down. He is always trusted by all his colleagues at the Gambia Press Union and all International media organizations.
Through all the events that came to define press freedom, through all our moments of deepest hurt and brightest hope, Demba Jawo was there, telling the story of the Gambian in his Critique pages with the Daily Observer, Independent and in social media.
Naturally, we find ourselves wondering how he would have covered the monumental stories of our time. In an era where the news in The Gambia on fire can sweep around the world at the speed of the Internet, would he still have called to double-check? Would he have been able to cut through the murky noise of the blogs and the tweets and the sound bites to shine the bright light on substance? Would he still offer the perspective that we value? Would he have been able to remain a singular figure in an age of dwindling attention spans and omnipresent media? His critical and provocative style of journalism will be missed.
And somehow, we know that the answer is yes. The simple values Demba Jawo set out in pursuit of — to seek the truth, to keep us honest, to explore our world the best he could — they are as vital today as they ever we
Demba Ali Jawo invited a nation to believe in him — and he never betrayed that trust. That’s why so many of us entered the profession in the first place. That’s why the standards he set for journalists still stand. And that’s why he loved and valued all of us, but we loved and valued Demba Jawo not only as the rarest of men, but as an indispensable pillar of our society.