West African Journalists Association (WAJA) a sub-Saharan regional journalistic organization whose main objective is to build the capacities of its members in the 16 West African states held its first regional workshop in the Gambia from 14-16 October 2008. The theme of the workshop was reporting conflict, peace keeping and human rights. Along side these theme was award giving. For the first time th West African Journalists Association (WAJA) organization gives away Life Time Achievement Award to the late Gambian editor Deyda Hydara.
On Thursday 16 October 2008, the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) awarded the late Deyda Hydara proprietor and editor of The Point newspaper its prestigious Life Time Achievement Award the first of its kind to be awarded. This Award is a sign of recognition of Hydara’s role in press freedom not only in the Gambia but in the sub region as a whole.
At an over crowded Jama Hall of a five star Kairaba Beach hotel, the President of WAJA Ibrahim Famanka Coulibally said “we have within us the West Africa region where journalists were murdered for no reason but for only doing their job as journalists, just like the late Deyda who was a founding member of WAJA and served as its first treasurer” There are sates who would not tolerate the truth, our colleague Deyda deserved this award, and that is why we are awarding him the award.
Coulibally told the crowd that we have to follow the good examples of the likes of Hydara, and all former presidents of the Gambia Press Union. Our job is not an easy one but there must be people who have to do it, he concluded.
Accepting the award , the widow of Deyda who is at the moment in U.K, Mrs. Maria Hydara in a telephone call from United Kingdom, which was relayed to the people live said “we will never over come this terrible ordeal” She urge all to continue what they are doing , and said the family is grateful to all. Receiving the award on behalf of the family, Yadicon Njie first cousin to the late Hydara, who was short of words and in tears said I thank all, I thank all, thank you all. She steps down in tears.
WAJA had earlier awarded five other journalists for excellent jobs as reporters. Mariatou Conateh a Malian journalists is one of them. The President of WAJA, Coulibally told the audience that this is the first time that WAJA is awarding a group of journalists base on the merits of their work. It is meant to encourage our colleagues who are doing good job. Coulibally encourage all recipients to continue the good job.
A representative of the Gambia government at the award ceremony, Dr. Henry Carol,who is the Solicitor General said it is gratifying to note that the outcome of the WAJA workshop is a code of conduct; this shows how committed WAJA is when it comes to doing their job as a journalist. He warns them to continue working as professionals. Carol warns them that in seeking to do their jobs they must not lose sight that freedom goes with rights. Dr. Carol told the journalists that the Gambian constitution guarantees freedom of the press. He congratulated all the recipients