Monday, January 19, 2015

‘We Kept The Fighting Spirit To The End’

A Valedictory Statement by Talibeh Hydara, a Graduate of The Gambia Press Union School of Journalism. 

Valedictorian Talibeh Hydara (Photo Credit: Sang Mendy)
Talibeh Hydara, the best student at the school, said Friday that 12 of 20 students, who started the course in 2012, had kept a fighting spirit to the end of a rigorous academic challenge. 

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) School of Journalism graduate its first batch of students who attained a higher diploma in journalism during a ceremony held at a local hotel in Kololi.

“We kept this spirit, not just because we wanted to, but because we had the best lecturers whose inputs were magnetic,” Mr. Hydara said on Jan. 16, 2015.

Read on, his full statement:

“It gives me the greatest honour to give the valedictorian vote of thanks on behalf of my colleagues. First of all, I would start by thanking God for guiding us through the intensive Professional Reporters’ Advanced Diploma Programme, in which we have been engrossed during the past two years. I would also like to express profound appreciation to our parents and guardians, who put up with our early goings-out and late comings- in, for such a long time.

“We were part of the many people who applied to join the new GPU School of Journalism, before it was inaugurated in 2013. After a rigorous entrance test, only 20 candidates were selected to start the Programme. Among the 20, only 12 students have made it to the finishing line. Some could not meet the rigorous demands of the Programme, therefore, they had to withdraw. 

“Happily, we 12 have kept the fighting spirit to the end. We kept this spirit, not just because we wanted to, but because we had the best lecturers whose inputs were magnetic. From Dr. Ralphina de Almeida, the Director of Studies, who has been the de facto Head of the School, imparting immense knowledge, diction and cognitive skill in her Analysis lectures. She not only gave us the best, but made sure that every lecturer performed of equally high standard. 

“Her colleagues in the Academic Department included: Mr Sam Sarr, who successfully taught us the most important rubrics in journalism; Media Ethics and Media Law; the dynamic and energetic Hon Sheriff Bojang, who twisted our tongues and accents to speak the Queen’s English; Mr Hassoum Ceesay, who would take us back to the embryonic stages of Media development in The Gambia, giving us the opportunity to know the fallen heroes and heroines of the Gambian Press. 

“Not forgetting, of course, our able Executive Director, Mr. Gibairu Janneh; the Course Facilitators and the entire GPU staff, most especially Haddija Jawara, Sang Mendy and Musa Barrow, who have been immensely supportive from the outset. We must not also forget to register our debt of appreciation to the six Danish Gambia Media Support (GAMES) programme journalism trainers. We thank you all, greatly.  

Students pose to the cameras shortly before the opening ceremony: Standing from left: Zainab Faal, Yahya B. Baldeh, Lamin Yarboe, Abdoulie Jallow, Talibeh Hydara, Modou S. Joof and Lamin Jahateh, and Sitting from left: Muhammed Ndure, Adam Jobe, Meita Touray, Mary M. Gomez and Fatou A. Camara (Photo Credit: Sang Mendy)
“I do not even remember when I developed the passion to become a journalist. However, I do vividly recall seeking the advice and opinions of many people, but all I received was: ‘journalism is risky’; ‘journalists are paid pittance earnings’, etc. I then realized that each time one begins to check the validity of one’s dreams with people, one gives a chance to the blighting of one’s dreams.

“My entire life thrives on hope and nothing else. My parents lacked the wherewithal to send me to university and to make things worse, my dad passed away six months ago, leaving mum behind with a nurturing mountain to climb. All these, at one point, put my journalistic dreams on a downward trajectory. My dad could not be here today because he has gone. I can still remember how his twilight days were marred by weakened financial power and terminal illnesses, which eventually took him away. 

“Nevertheless, I refused to let that shatter whatever I dreamt, because I believed if I can dream it, then I can be it. I have come this far today, because of my mother and my sisters, prominent among them Sofia and my twin sister, Rahmatoulie. Plus my best friends, Muhammed B. Sowe and Mamadou Jallow, who have been everything I so desperately wanted, in my quest to break away from ignorance and poverty. 

“I commend the GPU and media chiefs, whom I urge to keep training young people, because the future of journalism in this country lies with the young minds. It is nearly a century and half since the first newspaper was established in The Gambia, but the struggle to give a proper shape to the Media has never been more difficult. 

“I believe if the young people are better equipped and trained, we will change the status and the mind-set of people about journalists. So that good stories can be read in papers, without glaring and avoidable grammatical errors; so that journalists will not be called ‘join the list’ or some other lecturers stop their so-called newspaper review during lectures, to pounce on journalists.

“To parents and guardians, I say keep on praying for us. We now need your prayers more than ever, as we prepare to go into the world of journalistic work, where risks are palpable and ever-present. We cannot just walk away from the Media, especially having gathered enough skills during the training, to at least change a few things and attitudes.  

“Finally, I owe this to my fellow graduates because---let’s face it--- I came to the School of Journalism as a shy, diminutive and one of the youngest students, with little or no experience. However, when it became cardinal to select a leader of the class, they unanimously selected me to head them; regardless of my age and naivety. 

“Not only that, they stood by me all the way and they became my family outside my home. So, colleagues, I am only receiving this best student award on your behalf, because it belongs to all of us. I thank you for your solidarity and support during our work together. I pray that we all have a bright and successful start in and journey throughout our journalistic career.

“Thank you all for coming. God bless you all!”


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