Saturday, 12 October 2013 21:43(Book Review) – Delayed Democracy: How the Press Collapsed in The Gambia, is quite an appropriate title for a book that talks about the state of the Gambian media, particularly since the advent of the AFPRC/APRC regime of President Yahya Jammeh.
The author; Alagi Yorro Jallow, is no doubt very much qualified to talk about the Gambian media. He had been an all-round journalist who has had quite a wealth of experience of the Gambian media scene. Apart from being co-founder and Managing Editor of The Independent newspaper, which was by all accounts one of the most vocal newspapers the Gambia has ever had, and which was arbitrarily proscribed by the regime in 2006, he has also worked as stringer for both the BBC and other international media, in addition to his extensive exposure. Therefore, he had a good grounding in carrying out the research and writing the book.
There is no doubt that it had taken Alagi Yorro quite a thorough and extensive research in order to come up with such a comprehensive book which has chronicled the development of the media from its inception in the late 1800s to date, making it a rich reservoir of knowledge for both journalists and researchers on the Gambian media.
This is especially so when one imagines how extremely hard it is to get accurate records in the Gambia about anything. Therefore, Alagi Yorro deserves a big pat on the back for being able to come up with such a well researched, both historical and academic, document on the metamorphosis and development of the Gambian media to its present format.
What makes the book even more relevant is because Alagi Yorro did not only stop at documenting the problems confronting the Gambian media, but he also made some useful suggestions as to how to resolve them, quoting various authorities and examples from other jurisdictions.
While all the different sections of the book are useful to not only journalists and those interested in the development of the Gambian media, but of particular interest to journalists and researchers is “Appendix B; Attacks on the Press in The Gambia, 1994-2012” in which he documents in detail the systematic harassment and intimidation that Gambian media and individual journalists have endured during the 18 years of AFPRC/APRC rule.
Of course, considering the fact that Alagi Yorro is presently fully engaged in teaching at the Martin de Tours School of Management and Economics, at the Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand, one can understand that he has very limited time to check and cross check all the minute details in the book, hence creating room for some minor errors in both grammar and context. For instance, we have come across such errors like the “Common Wealth” instead of the Commonwealth as a single word; “Sateve Biko” instead of Steve, and describing Kenneth Best as being “employed as editor of the Daily Observer”, instead of being its founder and proprietor, and also referring to the predecessor of The Nation of the late William Dixon Colley as Africa Njaat (“Forward Africa” in Jola), when it was in fact Africa Nyaato (which means forward in Mandinka), and a few other minor errors.
However, these little errors have not in any way diminished the relevance and usefulness of the book and I would recommend it to all those interested in the emergence and development of the Gambian media. It is therefore quite an indispensable reference material for all Gambian journalists.
This 250 page book, to be officially released on 26th October 2013 with the price of the paperback edition being 19 US dollars per copy, is published by Author House, USA (www.authorhouse.com).
Written by D. A. Jawo
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