Anybody, whether or not they have a
military background, will tell you how effective the "divide and conquer"
method of warfare is. If you divide a group you halve their strength and you can
use any acrimony which exists in the split camp to your full advantage. For
this reason news of a potential split in the Gambia Press Union will be music
to the ears of those in The Gambia who hate journalists and what they do and
stand for. As a profession journalists must be like other professions and speak
with one unified voice. One organisation can be a better advocate for the
rights and entitlements than two or even three. Aside from serving those that
would wish to harm journalists a disunited voice among journalists will greatly
weaken their ability to collectively bargain.
We have written in the run up to the GPU
congress, along with our colleagues in other Gambian publications, of the need
for change and a fresh start. Unfortunately if we seek to make a fresh start as
many different organisations it is only ourselves who will suffer. A new
executive has been elected and they should be allowed to at least try and bring
about change in the organisation. It is a fact of life that after a congress or
election of any kind there will be people who are disappointed, emotional and
angry. These are not positive states of mind to be in when making decisions
with regard to ones future plans. That is why we wish to appeal for calm on all
sides. Let us all, like the professionals that we are, weigh up the pro's and
con's, analyze our situation carefully and then come to any decisions we may
wish to make with clear uncluttered minds.
We must remember that the GPU
exists not because of our differences but what we share in common. We are
journalists, we are the voice of the voiceless we are the scourge of corruption
and the champion of those who would be subject to human rights violations or
violence of any kind at the hands of those who wield power. For this reason we
again appeal to the better nature, the common bond and the solidarity between
journalists in The Gambia to prevail. Let us avoid a split at all costs.
Nothing is so broken that it cannot be fixed. No sin is too great that it
cannot be forgiven. Let by gone's be by gone's and let make a fresh start for
the good of all of us. When we fight amongst ourselves it serves only to
strengthen our enemies position.
Our duty as guardians of free speech and freedom of
expression is not only to ourselves, so that we as journalists can work free
from intimidation and fear, but to all the people of The Gambia so that they
might also enjoy these freedoms. The way we can best achieve these goals is if
we as a group are unified in our purpose and position and speak with one
"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of
men that the defences of peace must be constructed."
[constitution of UNESCO]