By Lamin Cham
Mohammed Darboe, the comedian-turned-anchor of the popular Fatu Network talk show Toynaa Kesso, has released a video apologising for what he called “the unfortunate event” that happened in the edition of the show last Saturday.
In that edition, the anchor invited another comedian Baba Jah, a prominent supporter of the National People’s Party who made what many consider licentious comments against the person of Ousainu Darboe, the UDP leader.
The interview sparked widespread criticism and condemnation from outraged UDP supporters and other Gambians.
As a result of the blowback, Mohammed Darboe issued the statement expressing his remorse. “I am very, very sorry for the interview and I wish to sincerely apologise to Ousainu Darboe and all Gambians who feel disappointed and angry about what my guest, Baba Jah, said. I have decided that together with my parents we are going to Mr Darboe’s house to sincerely and formally ask for his forgiveness for the content of the programme for which I take responsibility. I am personally very sad about this and I don’t mind even quitting the show if it comes that,” he said.
Following the broadcast, hundreds of UDP members have called for a boycott of the network. UDP executive member and lawyer, Yankuba Darboe, wrote; “You cannot invite clowns to spew vile at my leader and expect my love for your platform! Only an idiot [will allow that!]. I’ve boycotted many platforms in the past; they include Freedom, Barrow Media, Star TV! Let’s say I’ve added Fatu Network!
In her reaction, Fatou Camara, the proprietress of TFN, told The Standard: “The Fatu Network is a credible media institution so when any situation of this nature arises where some people are not happy with our coverage, the first thing we do is to gather the facts and analyse the evidence. During the course of that process, we will neither be pressured, bullied nor intimidated into making a rash decision.
“As for the call for a boycott, people have a right to take whatever action they deem necessary just as we have a right to take actions we deem necessary.
“The management of The Fatu Network would like to take the opportunity to thank the media fraternity, Gambians of all backgrounds and political affiliations for the immense amount of support and solidarity given to us. Freedom of the press must never be compromised and we hope that those principles will be upheld at all times.”
Gambian commentator Zakaria Kemo Konteh, condemned Baba Jah for his attacks on Ousainou Darboe, but cautioned: “For those of you calling for a boycott, it is your inherent right to disassociate yourselves from any media platform including The Fatu Network if you feel they do not add value to you but it is my firm belief that the current campaign smacks of impulse and is therefore counter-productive. Tonyaa Kesso is not the only show hosted on the network and certainly the last episode is not the only episode you have ever watched on the platform. There are still so many others you may work together to achieve in the interest of democracy and good governance in our country. I know Honourable Ousainu Darboe will not boycott The Fatu Network just because someone used the platform to rain insults on him. Express your disappointment and disagreement and even lodge a formal complaint with the proprietor and the management of The Fatu Network but going as far as boycotting the entire platform is ill-advised, unnecessary and, quite frankly, ineffective!”
Tukulorr Sey, the president of TFN stated: “All who know me, know that I do not ascribe to insults and demeaning of others. It makes me sick and disgusted. All have agreed that what happened on Tonyaa Kesso was not appropriate. Thus, I was relieved when the CEO Fatou Camara announced on For The People, By The People Show that she and TFN editor Lamin Njie have spoken to Muhammed. She further stated that she will address the issue internally.
“I am quite certain Muhammed will see this experience as a learning curve, and control his platform moving forward. He has a promising career and I don’t see him allowing others to control his narrative. I bet this is a hard lesson learned.
I humbly accepted to be president of The Fatu Network because I was there when the proprietor built it from the ground up. I was there when all of us went to work and fought against dictatorship, but Fatu chose to stay home and maintain programmes on Fatu Radio because it was one of the few outlets that dared bring the fight through the airwaves. The stories on TFN were and are still the outlet for Gambians and the international community. Thus, I have no doubt this institution will continue thriving. I am proud of the team we have because each person thrives on making sure they produce stories and programmes for Gambians. We have a staff that works hard and are professional, and I implore them to continue the work many revere.”