FEATURE: Celebrating Pap Saine, one of Gambia’s own The 2019 Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist of the Year

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Named The 2019 Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Pap Saine, the Doyen of Gambian journalists and colleague of the assassinated veteran journalist Deyda Hydara was honored this week in the US.

Mr. Saine is a Reuter’s News Agency correspondent and co-publisher and managing director of The Point newspaper.

The award named for the late Percy Peter Tshidiso Qoboza, editor of The World newspaper in Soweto, South Africa, honors foreign journalists engaged in groundbreaking and often dangerous work in hostile environments.

“Throughout his career, Saine has overcome harassment by government authorities in The Gambia, never swaying from his dedication to his cause,” said NABJ.

Pap was also named a World Press Freedom Hero by International Press Institute in 2010.

Saine has been arrested, criminally charged and imprisoned for simply doing his job as a reporter.

In 2009, he was sentenced to two years in prison with five other journalists for using his platform to criticize then-Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s comments about press freedom and the unsolved murder of his colleague and The Point co-founder Deyda Hydara.

While he was eventually pardoned, he continued to endure harassment from the government. Over the past year, he has spoken and written unapologetically about the role the former government leaders may have played in the death of his fellow newspaper colleague and the need for the government to strike down media laws that he describes as “draconian.”

According to NABJ President Sarah Glover, Saine’s commitment to journalism regardless of the attempts to silence his voice is exemplary.

“Press freedom is one of the most precious rights that we could ever fight for,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “I am proud that NABJ has the opportunity to honor Pap Saine as not only a champion for the citizens and members of the press of The Gambia but also a champion for ensuring that journalists worldwide can do their jobs without censorship or pressure from the government.”

According to Damaso Reyes, co-chair of NABJ’s Global Journalism Task Force and director of partnerships at the News Literacy Project, Saine has always been an individual that never hesitated to lead by example. Reyes explained that Saine garnered the nomination for the award,

“Not just by producing high-quality journalism but by speaking truth to power and standing up to his government and holding them to account,” said Reyes.

“At great personal risk, he has kept working, not letting his voice be silenced even though he was imprisoned. And he has kept fighting to produce honest and independent journalism in The Gambia and throughout the region. As American journalists come under fire from all fronts, Pap’s example is one that should inspire us to persevere.”

Author: Sidi Sanneh