On 16 December 2004, some former staff of The Point newspaper woke up to the devastating news of the shooting to death of the paper’s brave and much-loved managing editor hours after he threw them a party.
December 16th and 17th are etched in the memory of many former Point staff as they were least prepared for what happened on the night of 16th.
The late Deyda Hydara was a father figure.
He was a pleasure to be around and this was why staff lingered at The Point hours after closing.
The Point newspaper was a home away from home for its staff of the halcyon days of its kind-hearted slain editor.
Despite struggling financially, the late Deyda Hydara was always excited to invest in his staff.
The avuncular manner with which he treated everyone made The Point a family home.
He was the father and staff, the children.
These were some of the factors that galvanized the former staff of the paper against Pap Saine when he announced his intention to close The Point for good shortly after Mr. Hydara’s murder.
A bit of a context here!
When Mr. Hydara was killed on December 16th, the paper was thrown into a state of confusion.
Two weeks after the shootings, the profoundly shocked and deeply saddened Pap Saine gathered all the staff of The Point newspaper.
The current Gambia’s minister of foreign affairs Dr. Mamadou Tangara, who was at the time reading in France, represented the Hydara family in the meeting.
By the way, Tangara grew under the watch of the late Hydara.
Few things or many issues that became obvious during the meeting was that Hydara’s killing has sparked anger and reinforced determination in some than instilling fear.
Imam of The Point’s makeshift mosque Musa Casa Taal opened the meeting with prayers before Pap Saine spoke.
But after he delivered his speech, he did not make any sense to the staff, burning with the desire to safeguard Mr. Hydara’s legacy-The Point newspaper.
“Those who killed Mr. Hydara will be wallowing in quiet satisfaction and great pleasure when The Point is finally closed because of his death,”reporter Momodou Justice Darboe forcefully said when Pap announced that his family had succeeded in convincing him to quit journalism and he no longer felt safe to continue publishing.
“The only thing we can do for Mr. Hydara and his legacy is to resume publication forthwith and tell whoever may be responsible for his killing that we will not be intimidated,” Darboe said with the hope of whipping up support from fellow reporters and staff present.
Dr. Tangara seized the opportunity and built on the momentum after realizing that no staff, except Mary Thomas John Kanu, had agreed with Pap Saine.
Madam Kanu, as a mother of three young kids, could be understood as she imagined the lives of her kids without her.
After all, her affectionate friend Mr. Hydara was shot dead a fortnight previously and long-time colleague Nyansarang Jobe shot on the leg.
Dr. Tangara spoke and said he was aware of the security and safety concerns of the staff but stressed that left to him alone, The Point newspaper should hit the newsstands again.
When he finished speaking, all the reporters in the room threw their weight behind him and succeeded in overcoming Pap Saine.
Ebrima Sawaneh was appointed News editor, Momodou Justice Darboe sub-editor, Momodou Lamin Jaiteh editor, Yusupha Cham sports editor, Ahmed Allota coordinator, Ousman Kargbo sub-editor, Alhagie Mbye senior reporter, Amadou Dibba editor, Sarata Jabbie-Dibba, Bakary Samateh, Modou Sanyang, Mbye Faal, Alieu Jamanka, Abdoulie Nyockeh, Njie Baldeh, Wally Bah, Fatou Jobe, Jemay Bah, Isatou Secka-Saidy, Isatou Bajan and Augustine Kanjia were mobilized as reporters.
D. A Jawo was also providing huge operational support.
Mary Thomas John Kanu, Lamin F. Bojang, Absa Samba, Florence Johnson, Therese Johnson and Mary Njie took charge of the control room.
Musa Casa Taal, Saul Njie and Philip Kotey took charge of finances while Omar Cham and Modou Jawara made sure the paper came out on time.
The rest, as they say, is history.
This article was first published on September 24, 2022, It’s reproduced here to coincide with The Point’s 31st anniversary.