(JollofNews) – Gambia’s pro-government newspaper, The Daily Observer, has come under heavy criticism after making false publication that the president
of Gambia Yahya Jammeh delivered a speech at the just concluded U.S – Africa summit in Washington DC.
The newspaper, in a massive propaganda drive, published a headlining front page story on Friday 8th August 2014 which wrongly claimed that president Jammeh gave a speech in front of the large gathering of African and American leaders at the summit held in the American capital.
Over 50 African heads of state attended the two-day summit duped, the biggest gathering of African leaders on American soil, which was held at the Whitehouse from 5th to 6th August 2014 and hosted by the American president Barack Obama.
But Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh missed most of the summit as he was holed up inside his hotel for several hours by activists protesting against his dictatorial rule in the West African country. On the opening day of the summit, Jammeh missed the speeches of both the vice-president and president of the United States Joe Biden and Barack Obama respectively, as protesters gathered outside the Hay Adams hotel where the Gambian president was staying. The president was apparently worried that he will be pelted by the demonstrators who were said to be carrying eggs. When he finally decided to attend the meetings, president Jammeh was seen running into a waiting car to avoid eggs being thrown at him.
The script was pretty much the same on the following and final day of the summit as protesters once again assembled outside the hotel. After spending much of the day in his hotel room, Jammeh was again horridly ushered into a waiting car for the short journey across the road to the Whitehouse to attend the final event, which was the dinner hosted by president Obama.
At the press conference that followed the dinner, activist and journalist Sam Phatey who was accredited to cover the event reported that members of the Jammeh delegation are dishing out a six-page booklet to journalists containing a supposed speech delivered by President Yahya Jammeh. In a live broadcast on Fatu Radio and relayed on JollofNews Radio, he said “Gambia government are here giving out leaflets lying that Jammeh gave a speech at the U.S-Africa summit when he didn’t give any speech”, also posting a picture of the said booklet on social media.
Two days after the summit ended, the daily Observer, seen by many as the Jammeh government mouth piece, published an article claiming that Jammeh delivered a speech at the summit. The article, which was the headline story in its Friday edition, titled “Jammeh: US-Africa partnership augurs well for future” claimed that the Gambian president gave a long speech at the summit, although it failed to mention whether the speech was made on the first or second day of the summit.
Few hours after the publication, several people took to twitter and Facebook to condemn the Observer’s propaganda machine.
Banna Joof posted on twitter “shame on the daily observer of The Gambia #yahya Jammeh never gave a speech”. Another twitter user Khadijatou wrote “it’s a shame, why saying lies. Shame on you Yahya Jammeh”. While another twitter post read, “Yahya said he gave a speech at #USAfricaSummit he hasn’t been to no event except dinner”. Rafiq, also a twitter user said he’s “amazed by the observer article”. And Foday Justice Darboe posted “Another lie by #jammeh” with a link to the observer story.
Others took to Facebook to vent their dismay. MamaLinguerre Sarr posted on her Facebook wall “Lies, lies and more lies from Banjul, can anyone tell us what business forum Jammeh attended during the recently concluded US Africa summit and delivered the speech reproduced verbatim on daily observer”, adding a link to the article. Another Facebook user, Sainabou Jobe quipped “OMG, Really???? In this day and age of technology and social media why will the daily observer succumb this low…. I am speechless”. Sohna Sallah said “Thanks to online radio and social media Gambians know the truth. Observer newspaper is only useful to the gerrteh saaf sellers”.
Hundreds more such messages were plastered all over social media by Gambians within and outside the country, with others even claiming to have phoned the newspaper to register their disappointment.