Gambians Pay Tribute as Popular Journalist Pa Nderry Mbai Journeys Home

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Gambians mourn the death of Nderry M’bai, proprietor and editor of the Gambia’s online Freedom Newspaper. According to his friends, M’bai passed away in Raleigh, North Carolina, after a brief illness.

Tributes continue to pour in as the country mourns the death of one of the best-known journalists.

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President Adama Barrow took time off the campaign trail to send the family and Gambians a tribute message on the passing of the veteran journalist.

“It was so sad that the country woke up to the news of the passing away of veteran journalist, Pa Nderry Mbye, proprietor of Freedom Newspaper.

Pa Nderry through his online paper contributed a lot to the struggle to liberate The Gambia from dictatorship. I extend my condolences to his family and pray that Allah grants him mercy and make Jannahtul Firdawsi his lasting abode”

Lamin Njie is Editor-in-Chief at The Fatu Network, he paid his tribute to Pa Nderry Mbye through a tweet that read,

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“I worked for him in 2016, writing stories for Freedom from The Gambia. This was when the dictator was at its most brutal Pa Nderry Mbai used his outlet to expose Jammeh’s brutality, at every turn. He did it with every life in him. May Allah bless Mr. Mbai and may he RIP.”

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) the professional umbrella body for journalists in the Gambia expressed heartfelt condolence to the fallen media guru.

“The board and staff of the Gambia Press Union extend heartfelt condolence to the entire Gambia media fraternity on the demise of journalist Pa Ndery Mbai.”

GPU President Muhammed S Bah said Mr Mbai will be remembered for his braveness and consistency in shining light on the ills of the government and government functionaries.

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“Despite the threat on his life and harassment of his family in The Gambia, Pa was consistent in exposing malpractices and giving people access to information that was kept away from the public,” Mr Bah said.

The death of Mr Mbai was announced Monday, 22nd November, in Raleigh, USA where he had been in exile for more than a decade.

Born in Touba Mourid, Niamina, Central River Region, M’bai started his journalism career at the Daily Observer Newspaper in the early 1990s. He reported on a number of issues and developed a reputation of reporting what the authorities and the management of his newspaper never wanted to be published.

Being a thorn on the side of the authorities and the owners of the Daily Observer, which was headed by the late Buba Baldeh, M’bai was sacked from his post in 2000 in what the newspaper described as a ‘restructuring exercise’.

Weeks later, M’bai joined The Point Newspaper, and under the guidance of the late Deyda Hydara, he continued reporting on issues affecting the Gambians. He also reported to the Voice of America radio.

In 2005, M’bai relocated to the United States and worked briefly for a number of online Gambian newspapers and forums including the defunct All Gambia before establishing the Freedom Newspaper. M’bai used the freedom of living in the United States to give a voice to all Gambians and to expose the ills of the regime of Yahya Jammeh.

His style of journalism was despised by the Jammeh regime and exposed his family to government attacks. In one instance, his parents were paraded on national television by the authorities and forced to disown him.

M’bai continued to be a thorn on the side of President Jammeh and played a significant role in bringing down his regime in 2016. He continued to run his newspaper until last week when he took ill. For more than 20 years, Pa Nderry Mbai played a key role in exposing human rights abuses and other injustices during former President Yahya Jammeh’s time in office.

Because Pa Nderry Mbai helped expose the frequent killings, disappearances and torture in The Gambia, Mr Jammeh put the journalist high on his long list of enemies. Two decades ago when newspaper offices were being set ablaze and reporters locked up, Pa Nderry Mbai moved to the United States and launched his online Freedom newspaper. Mr Jammeh made it a crime for anyone to read it.

The website was hacked into and smear campaigns were carried out in an effort to silence him. Because Mr Mbai did so much to expose atrocities taking place in The Gambia, people referred to him as the voice of the country’s first truth commission.

 

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