Saturday, 21 September 2013

YJAG 6th Anniversary and 3rd Congress: The Secretary General's Activity Report

YJAG Secretary General Lamin Jahateh

The Young Journalists Association of The Gambia (YJAG) is an independent non-profit making organization.  The association was formed by a group of young journalist with foresight and vision who thought it wise to come together to promote mutual understanding and the general wellbeing of young journalists in the country.  The association is legally registered with the Attorney General’s Chamber on 16th September, 2007. 

YJAG has members from both the print and electronic media houses nationwide, as well as aspiring journalists from press clubs of senior secondary schools.  The objectives of the association includes promoting unity among young journalists in the country, provide capacity building, and addressing the welfare of its members, among others. The association is also tasked with the responsibility to facilitate the recruitment of aspiring journalists into the profession.

The current executive members of the Association were elected during the second biennial congress which also marked 4th year anniversary of the Association held on 22nd October, 2011.

The new executive drafted a two-year Action Plan for the period 2012 to 2013 and this was approved by the general membership during the meeting held on 24th December, 2011 at Unique FM in Bakau.

In line with this Action Plan and as part of the tradition of the association, the executive conducted a tour of media houses during which we discussed the plight and welfare of young journalists with the media chiefs.

During the tour, we visited and discussed with the Managing Editor of Today newspaper, Managing Editor of Foroyaa newspaper, the Managing Director of Daily Observer, the Director of The Point newspaper, the Managing Editor of the Standard newspaper, the Proprietor of the MarketPlace newspaper, among others.

We called on media chiefs to provide in-house trainings for young journalists, increase remunerations of staff, with specific focus on freelancers in order to enable them deliver in their news rooms as expected.

Though all media chiefs promised to pay heed to our call, we are still urging them to step up efforts in ensuring the welfare of young journalists is well taken care of.

In February 2012, we have also paid a courtesy a call on the leaders of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) to strengthen relations and discuss on intended areas of cooperation.

Both sides express commitment to complement each other’s efforts in the promotion and protection of the welfare of journalists in the country, a goal critical to a vibrant media and the professional development of journalists.

However, the primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss about plans for YJAG and GPU to jointly commemorate World Press Freedom Day 2012. Despite the GPU leaders welcoming the initiative and accepted the idea without hesitation, they failed to honour their promised to celebrate the 3rd May event with YJAG and up to today no official reason is advanced for this disappointment.

As part of the courtesy call to our partners, we have visited the former U.S Ambassador to The Gambia, Ann Pamela White.   The Ambassador promised to continue to work with the young journalists so that they can be more effective in educating the public.  

At that meeting, it emerged that there is a need to create more visibility of the association by having a website.  After somber discussion on this issue at executive level, we have approached some I.T firms in the country with a view for them to create a website for the association. 

However, it was not possible to have our own website as we could not reach any deal with any of the I.T firms we approached due to financial constraints.  In the absence of a website, the executive has created a blog for the association which has almost all the features of a website.  The address of the blog is: .  It contains very vital information about the Association. 

Inauguration of the Board of Advisers

One of the most important tasked that this executive has executed successfully is the inauguration of the Board of Advisers that provide strategic guidance and thoughtful advice for the association and also to help ensure that the association remains true to its aims, mission and vision.

Inaugurated on 19th July 2012 at a ceremony held at the new secretariat of the GPU in Fajara, the six-member board consists of Njundu Drammeh of Child Protection Alliance as the chairperson, Ngui Mboob Janneh of the Female Lawyers Association, Sam Sarr of Foroyaa newspaper, Emil Touray, president of Gambia Press Union, Momodou Sabally, former Director of Budget and now SG and Presidential Affairs Minister, and Mrs Amie Bojang-Sissoho of GAMCOTRAP, and also former chairperson of YJAG board. 

It should be noted that these people were nominated by the executive and endorsed by the general members based on their individual commitment with regard to the empowerment of young people of this country. 

On September 16, 2012, YJAG celebrated its 5th Anniversary at the Secretariat of The Gambia Press Union, in Fajara. The theme for the event was “Promoting Professionalism Through Capacity Building”. It was marked by a training on Ethics and Child Reporting, facilitated by YJAG Board Chair Njundu Drammeh, who presented a paper on Child reporting and the Revised GPU Code of Conduct for Reporting on Children with case studies of ethical violations in Gambian media in relation to child reportage; and veteran journalist and Media Consultant, Cherno Jallow, who presented a paper on Introduction to Code of conduct for journalists, The role of ethics in journalism – why ethics matters, with case studies of ethical violations across media platforms around the world.

On the same day, YJAG was hosted by GRTS TV’s Abdoulie Badjie on his half hour Change Makers Show. Former presidents Nfamara Jawneh, and Assan Sallah and current President Modou S. Joof spoke on various issues of the association, including achievements and challenges.

Replacement of vacant positions

The executive of YJAG unanimously nominated Nyima Jadama and Amat Jeng as the Public
Relations Officer and Assistant Secretary General of the Association respectively. These nominations were done during an executive meeting held on 8th June 2012 at the Unique FM, Bakau.  Both of the nominees accepted their nomination and have since work
hand in glove with the executive.

The nomination of Ms Jadama and Mr Jeng followed the YJAG executive declaring vacant, the positions of PRO and Assistant Secretary General on 20th April this year as the elected holders of the said positions, Fatou Jallow and Amadou Wuyeh Manga, respectively traveled out of the country.

However, in the recent past, Amat Jeng and Yusuf Ceesay Assistant SG and Co-opted member respectively have traveled out of the country.  There various positions are not filled because it was only some months to the end of our term.

 Training of press clubs

YJAG has, in February 2012, facilitated training on “Basic Journalism” for the members of the Gambia College Press Club.  The training, held at the College campus in Brikama, was aimed at introducing the press club members to the fundamentals of journalism to enable them better understand the profession as well become more vibrant information disseminators. The training was held on the backdrop that there is a need to recruit students into the press and build their capacity through training in order to better enhance their day-to-day work as college press corps.

The college press club members were taken through presentations on “Introduction to Journalism” by Modou S. Joof, YJAG President; “Interview Tips” by Mamadou Edrisa Njie, ex-2nd Vice President of YJAG; “Techniques of Writing News Stories” by Ebrima Bah, YJAG member; and “Journalists and Academics as Educators” by Amat Jeng, Assistant Secretary General of YJAG.

Also on July 24, 2013, YJAG trained members of Nustrat Senior Secondary School Press Club on basic journalism.

The training, held at Nustrat Senior Secondary School in Bundung, was part of a three-day training programme from July 23-25 organized by the press club. YJAG facilitated the second day of the training in line with its objective of providing capacity building to its members, including press clubs.

The press club members were taken through presentations on ‘What is news, and the criteria of news’ by Lamin Jahateh, Secretary General of YJAG; and ‘Techniques of news coverage and reporting, and steps in news writing’ by Modou S. Joof, President of YJAG.

The day was lively and interactive in the sense that each of the presentation was followed by question and answer session during which the two young media professionals helped to augment the understanding of the press club members about journalism and the work of journalist.

At the end of the day, one speaker after the other thanked the presenters for a job well-done and for making them more eager to become profession journalist in the near-future.


Since the main perennial constraint of YJAG is financial, it is very important that the association devise ways and means of raising fund to enable us to achieve our worthwhile objective of enhancing the capacity of members through organizing trainings for them to become more professional and responsible journalists.  

The executive member had tried to hold fundraising programmes with some top Gambian musicians and Disk Jockeys (DJs) in January and March 2013 this year.  This were not possible due to the huge financial demand such programmes require from the side of the association.

However, on April 27, 2013, we were able to hold a successful fundraising musical show with renowned DJ Pisces and his One Force Alliance at Romana in Bakau.

Despite the poor turn-out from YJAG general members a good number of outsiders patronized and support YJAG to raise up to D3000 without spending a dime. All the cost of the programme was fully taken care of by Pisces – from the designing of posters and flyers to providing venue and musical equipments.

Nonetheless, fund raising was not only limited to organizing musicals.

In May 2012, the YJAG submitted project proposals to both US Embassy and British High Commission in The Gambia.  At the US Embassy we submitted a proposal for a project on “Promoting press freedom and freedom of expression in The Gambia”. It was intended to trained YJAG members on media laws in the country and also organized a national multi-sectoral workshop where people from different backgrounds will discuss the need for a freedom of Information Law in The Gambia.

In April 2013, the Embassy contacted us to send additional information which was done. They have since not get back to us.

The title of the project submitted to the British High Commission is “Strengthening the Young Journalists of The Gambia”.  The purpose of this project is to strengthen the association to become more viable in meeting the needs and aspirations of its members and promoting good governance and democracy in The Gambia. As of today, we are yet to get a response from them.

In July 2013, YJAG sent proposals to the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) and the Institute for Human Rights Development in Africa (IHRDA) “Training on Women’s Health and Rights Reporting”.

Also, a proposal for a “Training on ICT: Social media, blogging, internet research, and online reporting” was also sent to Unique Solutions and RLG Gambia in July. While a 3rd proposal “Training on Leadership: public speaking, time management, fundraising, project proposal writing” was sent to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) the same month.

There have been little but unfruitful responses to these proposals despite the importance they carry in the development of YJAG, the institutions involved and The Gambia as a country.

Newsletter publication

Despite the fact that past executive tried in vain to publish a newsletter for the Association, when we came to office, we were very optimistic that we initially planned to publish it biannually.  However, after pondering over the issue again and again, we realized that it was not feasible so we planned to publish it twice in our term. 

However, it is dishearten to know that we were not able to publish a single edition for logistical reasons.

Events YJAG participated

From January 12 to 14, 2012, five members of the association, namely Mamadou Edrisa Njie, Aminata Sanneh, Sulayman Ceesay, Meita Touray, and Amat Jeng, attended media training organised by The Gambia Red Cross with funding from the European Union Non State Actors Strengthening Programme.  The training, under the theme “Promoting Human Rights and International Standards in The Gambia” brought together print, electronic, online, journalists associations and networks that focus their works in the area of human rights both in The Gambia and outside. 

In March 2012, the association was invited by the National Youth Council (NYC) to serve in the National Organizing Committee (NOC) of the 2012 edition of the National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) held at Bansang, Central River Region (CRR).  Sulayman Ceesay represented YJAG in the Marketing and Publicity Sub-committee of the NOC. 

The Media and Publicity Sub-committee’s mandate was to publicise the NAYCONF through TV, Radios, and Newspapers, and also to play a lead role in raising funds for the event. YJAG played a lead role in the process especially media-related activities through Sulayman Ceesay.

YJAG also participated in a ten-day UMOJA camp 2012 organised by the Kanifing Municipal Red Cross Branch. YJAG funded the participation of Sulayman Ceesay in that camp. 

On the invitation of Beakanyang Kafo, a community-based organisation, YJAG has participated in the 1st National Youth Conference on Youth Participation in Politics in The Gambia held in June 2012 at the TANGO in Kanifing.  

YJAG was represented by Bekai Njie and Mariam Saine, 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents at the conference attracted various stakeholders including young politicians, youth leaders, and representative of political parties. It was meant to promote and inspire young people to actively participate in the country’s democratization process.

YJAG also joined Beakanyang Kafo, which is chaired by Nfamara Jawneh, former YJAG President, to commemorate International Human Rights Day on 16th December 2012, at the Buffer Zone in Tallinding.

On 1st November 2012, YJAG was invited by ARTICLE19 West Africa to participate in Stakeholders Meeting on the “Journalists and Media” component of the European Union Development (EUD) and The Gambia Government joint Governance Programme.

The stakeholders meeting was a follow up to a field assessment and face to face meetings with stakeholders conducted by ARTICLE19 in the framework of an assignment commissioned by the EUD  to  assess  and   meet key actors with a view to  collect data on the sector of “Journalists and Media” in The Gambia. 

Given the importance of YJAG as an association in this sector, President Modou S. Joof effectively participation and contribution to the meeting.

On March 8, 2013, some YJAG members joined ACTIVISTA Network (comprising youth organisations in The Gambia) to commemorate International Women’s Day. It was meant to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women and map out the faced by women in The Gambia and their solutions. Held at the Ebunjang Theater in Kanifing, the invitation was open to 20 YJAG members.

On 27 April, 2013, Sulayman Ceesay represented the YJAG President at an ACTIVISTA Inspirational and Reflection Forum held at the Gambia Christian Council. The Forum, which attracted ACTIVISTA volunteers across the Gambia and partner institutions, was meant to network and inspire each other on various areas of intervention in the development arena.

Following these, YJAG’s application to join ACTIVISTA affiliates was formally accepted by the ACTIVISTA Board on May 29, 2013. This move was necessitated by the fact that both organisations have some common aims and objectives in the form of capacity building and information dissemination. It was also prompted by the need to widen avenues of providing trainings for our members.

Sulayman Ceesay, who was selected to serve as Focal Person of ACTIVISTA at YJAG, benefitted from a “Leadership Campaign and Social Media Training of Trainers” organised by ACTIVISTA and held at Parkalinding Trans Gambia Lodge from 22-28 June, 2013.       

Also, YJAG has taken part in marking World Press Freedom Day celebrations of 3rd May of 2012 and 2013 organised by The Gambia Press Union (GPU), the country’s main journalist body.

The Day is marked globally and provides an opportunity for discussions on the state of press freedom, reflect on violations of press freedom and freedom of expression, and as well celebrate the courage of fallen victims of violations in the country and around the world.

In the same vein, YJAG also took part in the 7th and 8th (December 2011 and 2012) GPU-organised Anniversary of the murder of Deyda Hydara. The co-founder and former Managing Editor of The Point newspaper was killed in a drive-by shooting on December 16, 2004. His murder remains unresolved.

On 19 December 2012, YJAG was ably represented by 2nd Vice President Mariam Saine at a “Generation Change, The Gambia” meeting organised by the US Embassy in Banjul. Held at the American Corner on Kairaba Avenue, YJAG and 18 other youth organisations across The Gambia discuss pertinent issues on youth development, present their organisations aims and objectives, mission and vision, and challenges.

Launched in 2010 by then US Secretary Hillary Clinton, Generation Change is a platform, both virtually and with real fife chapters, dedicated to empowering and networking a new generation of innovative young leaders around the world.  

A Generation Change chapter in The Gambia is still in its formulation process. YJAG hopes to play a crucial role in the process for the benefit of its members.

Travels and awards

In December, 2011 three YJAG members – Isatou Bittaye, Lamin Jahateh, and Haddija Jawara – were sent for a two-week intensive fellowship in Dakar, Senegal for emerging 1st , 2nd , and 3rd  respectively at the end of the second phase of the GPU/Article19 West Africa - European Union-funded trainings for journalists on “International Standards on Freedom of Expression” and “Safety and Security for Journalists”.  

In February, 2012, Haddija Jawara emerged as the best graduate in the two-year ‘Professional Reporter Diploma Programme’ a project financed by Gambia Media Support (GAMES) and implemented by the GPU.  She was presented a brand new laptop for her hard work.

Also, quite a good number of our members have widely travelled within the years under review.  Meita Touray has attended the fourth Africa Carbon Forum (ACF) in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa from the 18th -20th April 2012.   She also attended the third Global Greens Congress, held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2012. 

Again, she alongside Binta Bah, Nyima Jadama, Mafugi Ceesay and Sainey MK Marenah, attended a two-week journalism training on “The Media’s Role in Conflict Transformation and Peace Building in West Africa” held in Accra, Ghana and organized by the Germany-based International Institute for Journalism.

Also in September 2012, Lamin Jahateh, Yusuf Ceesay, Binta Bah and Amie Faye attended a two-week journalism training on “Freedom and Responsibility in the media” also held in Accra, Ghana and organized by the Germany-based International Institute for Journalism.

In July 2012, Nfamara Jawneh was also in Accra, Ghana to attend a two-day sub-regional conference on Youth Employment under the theme ‘Youth and Employment - Discussing the Implementation of Strategic Policy Frameworks on Youth and Employment in West Africa.’

The conference was organised by the Foundation for Future Leaders International (FFLI) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

After attending the fellowship in Dakar, Senegal, Lamin Jahateh has also been to Dakar again to attend a conference on Financial and Economic Crimes Reporting.  Amat Jeng, Assistant SG, has attended training on Economic and Financial News reporting in South Africa organized by Thomson Reuters Foundation.  Mamadou Edrisa Njie attended a fellowship on leadership in Senegal organized by LEADS. 

Note, while some of these developments are made through personal achievements or contact, YJAG has helped in some cased with the provisions of recommendation letters to our members. 


We have also been holding executive and general meetings in which issues of common concern have been raised and we try to deal with them in a manner that is better for the progress of the association. However, I must note that in most cases, the turnout was rather unimpressive because majority of members have not been attending.

In fact, since September 2012, no general meeting has been held for the simple reason that members always failed to turn-up whenever meetings are called.

The lack of payment of dues and general commitment to YJAG has greatly affected the rate of progress of the association.


Gathering funds for the Association to finance the implementation of its programmes remains the greatest challenge. It was due to the financial shortfall that most of the programmes in 2011-2013 Action Plan such as leadership training, training on ICT, and training on women’s health and rights reporting, training on freedom of expression and information, Environment reporting, and Good governance and accountability, have not been implemented. 

Recognition of Support

During the years 2011 to 2013, we recognised the support given to YJAG by Mr. Lamin Manga, the Proprietor of Unique FM, who continues to offer YJAG space at Unique FM for our general body meetings. The Taiwanese Embassy, Mr Baboucarr Cham of City Limit Radio, DJ Pisces and the One Force Alliance, the GPU, the YJAG Board, and all others who have supported YJAG in one way or the other.  

Thank you - for your kind attention.

Prepared and delivered by Lamin Jahateh, Secretary General of YJAG at the 6th Anniversary and 3rdCongress of the Association, on Saturday 21st September, 2013 at the Secretariat of The Gambia Press Union, in Fajara

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