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Tribute by Deyda Hydara’s children

Dec 17, 2010, 12:22 PM

Tragedy struck on Thursday night December 16th 2004. What started as a beautiful day for Pa; he had a lot to be happy for: it was his wife’s birthday and the anniversary of his pride and joy The Point Newspaper.

Its six painful years since he was cowardly and in the most inhumane way snatched away  leaving us in distraught, our only comfort is knowing he stood and died for what he believed in which he made us and the world proud .

We are still struggling to let go, the hardest bit been letting him go .We feel blessed everyday to have had such a brave and dedicated man, to champion the causes of free speech and press freedom which he thought were priceless and paid with his life for his ideals.

Our situation is enough to try a saint. We have undergone the hardest six years ever, we wonder what became of his deranged coward killers and their cohorts?

Six years of not knowing,

Six years of hardship,

Six year of turmoil,

Six years of struggling

Six years of devastation

While we remain grief stricken and with every passing year hope of getting any justice proves slimmer by the day.

For some weird reason after six years, there has been no arrests made, no one been charged and we wonder why the investigation to this horrendous crime isn’t proceeding more actively if any investigation for that matter.

Some pathetic wreck whose lives doesn’t mean much is let loose to continue a killing spree or being helped by accomplices as sick and demented as they are to hide or stay on the run. The question is how long will it take, can’t run forever and remember no situation is permanent.

Is horrendous that we can live in a society where such acts can occur and hideous that the culprits aren’t behind bars.

Justice is denied or delayed for someone who stood for Democracy, Justice and Press freedom. Killing him ended a remarkable career spanning over thirty years and a huge loss to journalism at so many levels, not only in The Gambia but the whole continent. Six years not enough torture for a family desperate for answers. It is said that time is a healer but I disagree, for after six years, it feels like the wound remains the same and probably with time the pain lessens but the scared tissues remain the same. The pain is never gone. How can the pain go with the fugitives still at large after six years. May be it is easier to remain cowards forever or go confident that you have help and are untouchable, but all things will come to and end good or evil.

We want to celebrate his life and not make his death greater than the precious and fulfilling life we shared. Remembering sometimes makes us sad, remembering sometimes makes us happy, it makes us grateful and most of all remembering sometimes makes us ever so proud of all the good life we had (MASHAALLAH). Remembering makes everyday hurt a little less we just have to work through it and accept that it does take time and “Inshallah” Allah   will see us through.

There is a chair on this table that is never going to be filled beyond that nothing matters.

Due to someone’s sick joke we are meant to be suffering twice more this time of year, not only are we suppose to mourn our dad we cant celebrate our mum’s birthday either, not even allowed or able to wish her a happy birthday anymore.

It’s believed that behind every good man there is a great woman. Mum has been the backbone of this family. Going back to where it all started. The reason behind Dad being killed on Mum’s birthday is due to the fact that, the coward killers and their partners in crime had meticulously planned his assassination to take place on the anniversary of the paper which is also Mum’s birthday, as the point was established on the 16th December 1991 as a birthday present for her.

It all seems like yesterday when I helped Dad with the run around and the hiding from mum finding out what was being planned ( to give her the paper as a birthday present) with the help of Mrs Mbachu Sosseh all documents were typed and ready to be flied on the 16th December .

I remember the excitement in his eyes was like nothing I have ever seen, he was so proud, the burning desire he had to be able to promote Press freedom and free expression at any given cost, having it established on the 16th December was a bonus as he couldn’t think of a more rewarding present as she stood by him through thick and thin. He thought of making his pride and joy (the point newspaper) the voice of the oppressed and the unspoken, the ill-treated and the voice less.

To also be a place where he will be able to practice good ethical journalism, mentor of young aspiring journalists and most of all help promote free expression and freedom of the press.

His courage and deep sense of loyalty to risk his life for what he knew was right, earned him more enemies along the way.

He wanted the Point to be a birthday present for her each year. Nothing could top that up. (He thought every year ,all achievements of the paper were Mum’s birthday present  over and over again)

He grew stronger and steadfast to his ideals and never backed down and was prepared, strong willed and most of all had anticipated been killed. No detention or threat was enough to get him to quit. The hard work and values of one man to a profession is rarely found.

Sometimes I think about how different our lives would have been if this trauma hadn’t happened? But we thank Allah for having had a Martyr of press freedom for a dad and thank The Almighty and dad for choosing Aja Mariam to try and fill his shoes. He has left big shoes to fill but “Mashallah Ma is doing very well.  As we want for nothing, just more time with our dad  and to see  him enjoy the fruits of his hard work, and see more grandchildren , sons- in -law and daughters- in - law. Also remind him of how much he was loved and treasured.

Thank you Ma for being our mum and dad .You have carried heavy burdens , handle so much trouble over the years; but with strength from Allah feels like  you can move a mountain without anyone knowing . Your love for your family is unconditional as you smile when you should cry you soothe all our pain away and though we are suffering this horrid ordeal together you make us stronger. I apologize as I know it doesn’t feel like a birthday anymore, but allow us to wish you a pleasant day, since its your special birthday please please try and be happy for its your 60th that’s what Pa would have wanted.

Happy Birthday .We pray that the Almighty  would grant you long life and good health to see those  rank- and – files brought  to book. No punishment seems enough for what we are going through, knowing it wont bring him back but truth heals and we need closure.

We thank the loyal staff and publishers of the Point Newspaper for keeping a legend alive. Your efforts and hard work are commended with utmost gratitude; you work under extremely difficult circumstances daily. Happy Anniversary to the Point Newspaper.

We are grateful for all the Awards and the Life Time Achievements we received on his behalf in the last six years. The only regret is the fact that they were received posthumous. It’s a shame he had to die for his ideals.

We thank The African   Editor’s Forum (TAEF) for their most recent Award (at its 3rd Bi –Annual Conference Bamko- Timbuktu 2010) of Hero of African Journalism. I would like to thank TAEF again, not only for honoring my dad but also for an extraordinary experience as i will never forget Bamko /Timbuktu 2010 for the rest of my life. You included Deyda Hydara to the list of Africa’s All Time Greats and showed how much his work was appreciated. The support from people like you who rallied round us is the thing that picks us up the most .Sincere gratitude, to all members of TAEF, its organizers, partners and sponsors. I also thank the Malian Government and Ndey Tapha Sosseh for being a brave journalist whom I am proud to dedicate this Award to.


Vieux Deyda Hydara

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of the passing away of my father, Deyda Hydara. Some people will say that we are selfish, and we repeat the same points year on year, but this year is different.  I am going to talk to the people of the Gambia. I am not talking about the killers anymore as it’s obvious that not only are they cowards who can’t stand up for themselves or their kids if they have any, but also buffoons.

My father was killed when I was 14. I will be turning 20 on the 26th of December. So many things have changed in my life, since his death, likewise that of my whole family.

The following day, after my father died (17th December), was the most somber day. I for one didn’t see it coming; in fact, the only thing I saw coming was happiness, joy, celebration etc. The Point was turning 13 and my mum was turning 54. There were some very interesting plans in the pipeline for The Point. I almost can say it was perfect, but was it really?

Then bang, and another, then one more from the people who can’t be found, the screw that can’t be screwed with, they have no family, no friends, no one can say ‘Yes it’s them’. It’s almost like they were ghosts, but they weren’t ghosts, they were humans, definitely very familiar with the Gambia. Can’t say if they are or weren’t but they certainly have been around for some time. And, of course, they are known to a Gambian or two.

Please Gambians, let us look back at ourselves and correct our wrong doings, and try our hardest to be better individuals, better friends and, most importantly, be better Gambians. I do not mean that we needed people to be there, or we lacked anything we needed, but it would have been nice to see some friendly faces, that were seen during the good days, to be seen during the bad ones, as well.

But Alhamdullilah, my father was a hardworking man, and my mum was the foundation of the rock, which she was as she has shown over the past 6 years. With everything that one has gone through with her losing her husband, the fact that it occurred on her birthday makes it a billion times worse.

I have, no doubt, that she will always handle issues that had risen, and am sure will continue to arise, with the calmness, the humaneness, and grace with which she has handled all the previous obstacles. She has stood stronger and taller than any woman that I know, or any woman that I will ever know. My mum is the epitome of mothers, not that she is better than anyone’s mum, but anyone will have her as one of the best mum’s they know.

As you celebrate your 60th birthday, I take this opportunity to say happy birthday, and also promise that there will be many happy returns as you mummy will forever live in our hearts.


The day that darkened our lives is here again, 16th December. It used to be the happiest day in our lives; it is my dear mum’s birthday. We used to enjoy and make the day a memorable one.

The Point newspaper was inaugurated on this very day, to show how he care for our dear mum and his family. We keep asking ourselves questions we will never have answers to; Why our dear dad? I don’t think there is anything worth taking a person’s life for. Where are they, wicked murderers? I wish they could give us just one genuine reason for taking him away from us.

We try to cope with the fact that he is no more, but sometimes we find it very tough and unbearable. We don’t care what people say or think, we loved you as a Dad. We are very grateful you fulfilled your duties as head of the family, and also you did your job without fear or favour. You lived a worthy live which we are proud of.

Your cruel murderers - are they happy now that they have taken your live? God is waiting for them. They have left us with a pain we will be struggling with for the rest of our lives. Till we meet again, we love and miss you a lot Pa.