Nfally Fadera is one of the most popular Mandinka news presenters in the country. He has a bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of The Gambia.He started work with Teranga FM where he made his name until its closure.He then joined Star FM where he continued his daily news review in Mandinka .In this interview with What’s On-Gambia, Alieu Khan began by asking him to tell him a bit about himself.
Nfally:Nfally Fadera is a young Gambian radio broadcaster working for Star FM radio as News Presenter. I am widely known for news presentation in Mandinka. My four years radio work started from Taranga FM radio where I had been for two and half years, until it was closed down by the state. Few months after, I picked up work at Star FM producing and presenting a similar news program. I have also served at Unique FM briefly –not many people know that.
I have firm belief in the power of information in transforming lives meaningfully. I believe poverty is not about lack of resources but lack of empowerment and people can be empowered by information. I believe an informed citizenry is a plus for every leadership. I am guided by this thought wherever I am. That’s why even at the University I engage in information dissemination.
I am a co-founder of the recently launched Beyond The Cover magazine at the University of the Gambia.
I was a pure arts student who attended Saint Augustine’s Senior Secondary School before enrolling at the University of The Gambia. I finished my program (May) in Political Science, now awaiting commencement to be conferred a degree. I am a unionist as well; I served as Secretary General of the University Students’ Union.
In what circumstances did you grow up?
I was brought up by my very sweet granny. Perhaps, that’s why my Mandinka is better (laughs). Coming from a very humble background, it was not easy at all. I have to thank my grandmother and her children (my uncles) for the parental role they play in my life. They gave me the best they can and I am very grateful for that. They clothed, sheltered and educate me, doing everything possible to see me happy. I am determined to make my grandmother and the entire family proud. Inshallah, she will reap the fruits of her labour.
Are you the first to attend university in your family?
Yes I am the first and I think the only one for now. I hope my story would inspire the younger ones to follow suit. My family gave me the opportunity they never had.
How did you get interested in broadcasting?
I have always loved journalism, since childhood. As a child growing up in the suburbs of Wellingara, I got inspired by the likes of Bora Mboge, Lamin Manga, Ardy Fatty etc –the big names on Gambian television at that time.
Basically, I have ever loved journalism. Thus, after Secondary school while awaiting my results, my colleague Lamin Joof (also a news presenter) suggested that we apply to work as presenters at the then newly established Taranga FM radio. We applied and we got accepted right away. I started with English news presentation until when one day my former boss, Dr Ismaila Sisay, ordered that I take up mandinka news. I did. It was coming recorded in the evening by 9pm exactly.
One day, my managing director came announcing change of time to 3pm and ordered that it must come live. Being a perfectionist, I rose to the challenge.
Give us a brief overview of some of the programs you anchored?
Apart from the afternoon (3pm) Mandinka news programme, I used to do a Mandinka sports programme and Gamvibes Info. The 3pm programme is a review and translation of local newspaper headlines from English to Mandinka. It was designed to raise awareness and help empower the masses especially the illiterate majority. The programme connects Gambians to the world.
I was co-producing and co-presenting Gamvibes Info –the Gambia’s first informative entertaining programme in the country, with DJ Kepz. It was designed to promote Gambian entertainment but differently. It was geared towards giving relevance to Gambian celebrities by bringing to limelight issues of human interest, while creating a platform for people to know them better.
Is it easy for young people to break into radio presenting?
Generally, it is not difficult to become a presenter here. Nonetheless, it is difficult to have people do the kind of presentation I do. It used to be a job reserved for the elderly but the trend is changing now. That’s one reason why many are surprised upon seeing me (laughs).
What are some of the challenges you face?
The challenges are huge as a news presenter. One faces significant obstacle considering the sensitivity of the media in the country. 1) Loved ones are always concerned about your safety. Initially, I was even discouraged from being a journalist. 2) Employers are forced into unnecessary strict self-censorship which makes me sick. 3) Gambians need to change their attitude towards journalists whom many term as oppositions. It’s very unfortunate that one’s political affiliation is defined by their work. Of course we have the right to choice and belong to any party but my argument is it should not be determined by one’s work. What we do is national development because information is power.
Do you belong to any political party?
I don’t belong to any political party.
You’re now one of the most popular male presenters in the country. How does it feel?
It feels great. Seeing the faces of the people that listen to me, makes every sacrifice worth it. I am highly appreciated and welcomed warmly wherever I go. Alhamdulilah!
Many people call, text and visit just to see me or hear from me. My phone and Facebook are loaded with messages of appreciation and gratitude from all kind of people even in the Diaspora. That feeling of knowing that Gambians appreciate what I do keeps me going. It makes me push the extra mile. Even when I was going to University in Brikama, I would make sure news came daily and on time. It was tough but I had to do it for my fans.
What is that you find beneficial and interesting in Mandinka news presenting?
Like I said, the importance of information in the form of news cannot be overemphasised. Unique is the fact that it is done in our local language. This avails the unlettered masses ample opportunity to digest current affairs both locally and internationally. News raises awareness, gets people informed and help enhance good governance.
Do you know that you have a huge fan base among elderly Gambians?
(Laughs)Yeah I do. Loads of love to all my fans wherever they are in the world. Let me also state that there is an appreciable number of young people that follow the news. I would not do justice if I do not acknowledge them.
What do you think would happen to Star FM when you leave?
Star FM as an institution is bigger than me or anybody else. No one person can claim the credit for the success it registered within the short span of its existence. The radio has great minds, talented people doing extremely well. Thumbs up family!
But here is the reality: I am the only Mandinka news presenter there, with no assistant or trainee. So if I leave, you can imagine what would happen. I have made tremendous efforts to have assistants but the management is reluctant for reasons I don’t know. The news program injects cash on daily basis in the radio’s coffers through adverts and announcements. The program just got sponsored for tens of thousands of dalasi. Thus, when I leave and the news program is no more, the radio is likely to lose.
Who are your favourite presenters in the country?
Apart from the old guards from whom I draw inspiration, I like Fatou Camara, formerly of GRTS. She’s good. For radio presenters I like all of them.
Any plans to tie the knot?
(Laughs) Hmm.. Not yet. I am still young (not more than 25). Want to further learn, make some money and then consider marriage.
What would be the next step in your career?
I want to try my hand in something different. Say Television! I still have my eyes on the media empire dream. And it will be realised inshallah.]]>