Mr Baba Hydara, 35, is the eldest son of the slain journalist and co-founder of The Point newspaper, Deyda Hydara. Baba is currently the assistant managing director of The Point Newspaper Company. In this edition of Bantaba, The Standard’s Alagie Manneh picked up from where he left and talked to Baba about his father’s legacy and related matters.
In an interview we earlier had, you told me you wished for worse to happen to Jammeh than what befell former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré
(Cuts in) Of course. Yeah of course. And that comes from me being a son, and being a human being. But as a Muslim also, it is Allah Who gives you the punishment you deserve, and we leave everything in Allah’s hand. Sooner or later, we will see. For our own side, we should do what is necessary and we will never stop fighting. We will never stop fighting to see him dragged to a courtroom. We will never stop fighting. Just like what I said during the launching of the Association of Victims of human rights violations, I hope they will do their job because we really need to be serious about this. Really, really. We know there are a lot of victims. We know all of them want reparations at the same time justice and sometimes even, I am not afraid to say more of reparation than the justice, to be honest. That’s were a sort of diversion point comes in because some people want this, and others want that. Confusion will come at the end. So that’s why I am having a troubling feeling about this at the moment. But I am still a part of it, so I will try and assist however I can. But I will still voice out my opinion if I have any issues.
Any comments on the political situation of the country?
Of course, I am a Gambian, and I fought a little bit. When I was working for Reporters sans Frontieres, it wasn’t only for my dad. I was calling his name in propaganda saying ‘Gambia.’ The fact that I was calling his name and The Gambia, shows love for my country, and I am a patriot. Yeah, I was gone for so long, but because there was a reason. I wanted to fight from afar, than be close and risk a lot. That’s why I stayed far, but I was still an activist. As patriots, that’s what we do. And I am still a patriot. If I see that things are not right for this country, I will voice it out. But like everybody is saying, it’s a new government. Like everybody is saying, we have to be patient with them but as a journalist, you always have to be critical when there are somethings that you find a little bit not right. Still we will give them time, however, it’s a new government and we need to help also as a new government.
We must not always point fingers at them. And that’s why in this newspaper, and with Mr Pap Saine and the whole of The Point, we try to do that. We try to always bring up things that can lead them to deal with the main issues. As a pressman, that’s what you do; inform and at the same time point, show where to head, where to do something. That is why journalists should also be really competent with their jobs, because it’s a responsibility.
Every journalist has a responsibility. We have to be careful with what we say. It has to be constructive and we must also know the facts. You know these things anyway, it’s your job. It comes together, you know, the whole thing is a machine; the government, the press, the public. They work together in unison.
What about the current security situation in the country. A protester was shot to death in Kanilai?
I don’t know a lot about what happened in Kanilai because I wasn’t around, but what I think is, the government should open up communication between the population in Kanilai and themselves, because only diplomacy can work. Not force. They are Gambians like any other Gambian, so if there is a problem, let’s talk about it than using force. And I hope next time it won’t come to that. We should be careful. We don’t want to bring a certain hatred that will continue in this country. They have to sort it out once and for all.
And what should be done to avoid another ‘dictatorship’ in The Gambia?
I think there will never be a dictator again in this country. Do you remember Barrow’s last campaign meetings, the one in Bakau and in Serekunda? Do you remember the masses? Most of them were youths. In a country, youths are really important because they are the ones who are going to replace the whole generation. They will rule this county one day and we should be careful. Those masses wanted change. It wasn’t that they voted for Barrow; they voted for change and that change was Barrow. We should never forget about that. That’s why I said there will never be another dictator because they already experienced it and are not afraid to do it again, and again. That’s why the government should do a lot for the youths. Like yourself, and many others, they should give us chances, they should see how we can make the system better, with education, works, and in other sectors. They should invest in youths.
What’s your assessment of this government. How have they done so far?
I am optimistic about this government. Two years from now I can tell you how I am feeling, but for now I am optimistic. We have to be. If you are going to look for something, you don’t have to go expecting not to find it. You go with an idea you are going to find what you are looking for. That is the optimism I am talking about. We want something and so we have to be really positive we are going to get it.
Then how do you respond to those critics who accuse this government of not doing enough or better and that they are without any genuine agenda?
It’s good to have criticism. If you don’t have criticism, what you have is fear. People are a little bit pessimistic with everything that is happening. Let’s give them time but at the same time criticise them when they do something wrong. They said it, it’s a new democracy. That is democracy. Freedom of expression. You have to express yourself. We have to be patient, this government has a lot to do, but not too patient. There is a limit in life, it applies to them also. We cannot be waiting forever for them to know what they should do, where the problem lies or the solution to the problems.
Baba, is there something we left out that you would like to talk about or say before we wrap up this interview?
Just for the government to invest in the youths. I am repeating myself here because it is something that I take really personal. I remember being young, it was hard and we have a certain culture, trending culture, and that is to travel. Let them realise the problems why youths want to leave their own country to go abroad and start working there. Bring up jobs that are worth staying for and things that will attract them to stay. We are a small country, actually Tambacounda is bigger than The Gambia and it is only one region out of the ten regions in Senegal. But God gave us amazing land. We are surrounded by water. Our tourism is one of the best in West Africa. Even with the impasse and everything, tourists were still roaming here. So that tells you a lot about this country. It could be hard but they can bring up projects with the help of the international community. Since we are a democracy now, I guess they are going to help. Let’s see how we can do better and stop the youths from leaving. Give them jobs. Do you see how I am talking? I am passionate about it. And please, write it down, I am passionate. Give them voice. Put youths in important places in this new government so that they know they are represented. Lack of representation brings problems. They will ask themselves ‘where are we in this new government?’ This is for each and every one of us. We have a responsibility towards this motherland we have The Gambia. This new Gambia is beginning, and so everybody has to do something, his own thing, to add in his own way. If you have something to say, say it. If you want to do something, do it. Let the youth enjoy something out this Gambia, rather than to leave it in disarray.
Many thanks for your time.
Alright, you welcome.