GAMES activities timeline

2019-2023: Three year-project (extended to four years): GPU as a trade union and advocate for members, media and democracy

Goal: for the members to have support from their union in questions about welfare and security; for media organizations to become more active in civil society organizations; and for the sake of democracy that GPU get involved with partner organizations in the struggle for liberty of speech, freedom of information and good government practice.

A stronger GPU is important in the work for a peaceful and democratic Gambia –  both as a partner and in opposition – to the fragile coalition government. But never alone: GPU builds alliances with civil society and supports further organizing work in Women Journalists Association of The Gambia, Young Journalists Association, Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia, Network Agricultural Communicators, Human Rights Network and Network of Community Radios.

Funding: 3 million DKK from CISU and voluntary labour.

2019: Project building for MAJaC

Goal: Support to MAJaC’s fundraising to develop their media and private sector work and consolidate the organization.

Over a period of a couple of months GAMES exchanged ideas with MAJaC. We received funds from UNESCO for a small project about community radio stations. Apart from that we had no luck even though we applied in other places like the UN and CISU and campaigned for donations. We will fight on: in the summer of 2019 GAMES covered a radio teacher’s salary for one semester to allow MAJaC’s director more time for fund raising.

Funding: GAMES and voluntary labour.

2018-19: Kick-off of the Media Academy for Journalism and Communication

Goal: For MAJaC to establish itself in its own right as part of the new Gambian democracy and to develop new long-duration projects with other donors/partners.

Result: MAJaC moved from GPU to its own building complex and is now a name brand in Gambia. GAMES was asked for advice about design as well as policies regarding organizing and planning, employee policies and quality standards. MAJaC now offers a pre-course to the diploma courses to give access for students with lower grades. Also, MAJaC offered new specialized courses in live video-reporting using mobile phones for journalists and civil society organizers, blended learning courses for the youth and a course for women journalists from WOJAG. The partners contacted a number of possible donors about long duration commitment but with no result.

Funding: 500.000 DKK from CISU and voluntary labour.

2018: Field trip to The Gambia

Goal: to learn about GAMES’ work in Gambia and to reinforce ties between GAMES’ board of directors and the partners in Gambia.

Result: The visitors were happy about the trip and our partners have repeatedly said how important the Danish commitment and interest is for working together. For the participating volunteers it was enlightening to listen to partners and target groups tell their own stories about the progress made over the years. We have done a good job together!

Funding: Own pocket, GAMES and voluntary work.

2017-2018: Building capacities for a GPU in transition

Goal: To help find an effective daily mode of operating for GPU and the School of Journalism, educate more trainers and to learn the right way to expand in-house capacity development in media and civil society organizations.

Result: An important result was achieved when GPU made GPU J-School independent and renamed it, ”Media Academy for Communication and Journalism” (MAJaC) with its own board of trustees and staff. The academy was relaunched as a vocational school with classes that award diplomas on three different educational levels. The academy also offers post-graduate courses for journalists and a two month course in communication targeted civil society organizations among others.

GPU revised its strategy from reacting against oppression to being proactive with regards to building solid democratic structures but was otherwise too busy to expand their own activities. Beside the media sector reform work GPU organized a symposium about freedom of press, an ethical media caravan project, public education, courses for state and public employees and a CSO in freedom of information.

Funding: 400.000 DKK plus support from Dansk Journalistforbund and GAMES and voluntary labour. GPU won several projects, one from Open Society that financed the hiring of a program leader, to program workers and a bookkeeper, and one from EU/UNESCO that secured MAJaC 45.000 Euros in 2017.

2017: A united strategy for reform of the media sector

Goal: A united strategy for developing the media sector in Gambia

Result: after the change in government in 2016/17, GAMES and GPU invited media, the Ministery of communication and information infrastructure and civil society organizations to find common ground in the reform work started to reconstruct the country’s media sector and to avoid duplication and competition for donations. The international partners here were – among others – Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and International Media Support (IMS). An agreement was reached, including a new strategy for a holistic and sustainable development of media nationally. A committee was set up to execute the strategy with GPU as facilitator. All in accordance with Article 19 who supported the government’s work with a series of legislation reforms.

Funding: IMS and voluntary work.

2016-17: Building Capacity for Advocacy – GPU’s fight for democracy

Goal: For GPU to increase its organizational solidity and economic sustainability; to help increase media visibility for GPU itself as well as civil society organizations.

Result: The GPU School of Journalism was revitalized and with support from UNESCO and CISU managed to offer the two-year education as shorter diploma courses. With support from the CISU project GPU opened discussions about rights and positions within society with members of parliament, judges from the courts and the executive branch (police, government, armed forces).

GPU also strengthened its position in civil society activities. GPU contributed to the Gambia has decided campaign, crucial, along with pressure from ECOWAS, in the exiling of the dictator Jammeh after he surprisingly lost the election. GPU School of Journalism took a hands-on approach and helped private radio stations put their new freedom of speech to use. GAMES was applauded for faithful support through the hardships of the Jammeh regime.

Funding: 500.000 DKK from CISU, support from UNESCO/EU, 25.000 DKK from Dansk Journalistforbund and voluntary work.

2016-18: “Swim for Life” – a public education

Goal: To teach Gambians to swim and to make the population aware of the benefits of swimming

Background: Year after year GAMES volunteers in Gambia have seen children and adults drowning on the beach outside of the hotel. And when a Gambian sports reporter drowned after having backed up his car off the side of a ferry on the Gambia river the idea for the project was born.?????

Result: In cooperation with GAMES and GPU School of Journalism three organizations took on the challenge; lifeguards from the Red Dolphin Lifeguard Association, athletes from Gambia Swimming & Aquatic Sports Association handled the educational aspect and colleagues from The Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia (SJAG) took charge of communication. The project was the most covered ever, repeated the following year with new support and funding and secured GPU’s new status as a responsible civil society organizer.

Funding: Gambia Communicates, @LongLifeShorts and voluntary work.

2015-2017: Danish and Gambian agriculture journalists train colleagues

Goal: To educate 24 untrained local radio reporters to produce radio for farmers

Result: To follow up on the first project, Danske Fødevare- og Landbrugsjournalister and their colleagues in Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC) started a eighteen month course that 22 local radio journalists attended. An important step for NAC in efforts to improve and strenghten reporting about the countryside and agriculture that can benefit the poor population in the country districts as well as telling people in cities about living conditions in rural areas.

Funding: 500.000 DKK from CISU and voluntary labour by the agriculture journalists.

2014-15: Gambia Communicates – for civil society

Goal: To help civil society organizations advocacy for democracy, human rights etc.

Result: This project was in association with TANGO (The Association of NGOs) and DJ Kommunikation/Dansk Journalistforbund. At the project’s three courses 38 NGO workers were taught online web skills, how to communicate to reach a big audience and communication as public information. A network was formed with some of the NGO’s involved with a goal to get involved in further education and more courses.

Funding: 100.000 DKK from Dansk Journalistforbund and DJ Kommunikation in addition to 100.000 DKK from the GAMES project and through voluntary labour.

2013-2014: Partnership for agricultural reporters

Goal: To build and expand relations between Danish and Gambian journalists that cover agriculture and to strengthen the Gambian organization, Network of Agricultural Communicators (NAC).

Result: Danske Fødevare- og Landbrugsjournalister started their own project in Gambia with support by GAMES to get going. The project charted needs and started a test seminar about agriculture journalism and helped support the NAC strategy for developing organization and agriculture journalism. Together, the new partners began a new and bigger project.

Funding: 151.200 DKK from CISU, free voluntary labour and a double-mission paid for by GAMES.

2012-2015: Media for Advocacy – Advocacy for Media

Goal: To write a project document for a new training Institute for media and communication and to strengthen GPU’s position in matters like freedom of speech, public access to documents and professionalization of media.

Result: The project developed a plan for a new media/communications education in accordance with UNESCO’s model curriculum working together with civil society organizations. In addition to the standard diploma degree the institution will provide further education courses in journalism and communication. This target was more than reached when the GPU School of Journalism was registered as a social enterprise and received credentials from the Gambian Skills Qualification Framework. The second class of students has received their degrees and several of them are now teachers.

Funding: 2,9 million DKK from CISU and voluntary labour.

2009: July 17 Campaign for the liberation of the GPU 7

Goal: the release from prison of seven Gambian colleagues who were imprisoned after publishing a press statement that demanded investigation of the disappearance of their colleague Chief Manneh.

Result: GAMES and GPU started an international campaign for the release of three members of GPU’s board, three editors and one journalist. The board members and editors had been sentenced to two years in prison after a long period in custody for charges of defamation and subversive activity but had received pardons from the president Jammeh after months behind bars, officially for religious reasons but in reality, as the result of international pressure. The campaign also supported some of the colleagues that had escaped from the country. GPU’s president and some board members remained in exile for years.

Funding: IMS and voluntary work.

2008-2011: GPU-GAMES project: Media for Development – Development for Media

Goal: To build ”A Forum of excellence” of professional reporters to educate others and to strengthen GPU as an advocate for freedom of speech, media rights and media development.

Result: With a new two-year journalism education as foundation, the project found ressources for even higher ambitions in the shape of trainers, project managers and partnerships with civil society. Twenty students started a degree course and civil society organizations contributed sources, guest teachers and cases. GPU moved to more suitable facilities and hired a director. Twelve out of twenty students received a degree and four were hired as assistant teachers.

Funding: one million kroner from CISU and voluntary labour.

2008: GamPrint secures affordable paper for newspapers through cooperation

Goal: to strengthen Editors’ Forum and the cooperation of newspapers and to reduce spending on paper.

Result: the recently founded Editors’ Forum raised the issue that a private monopoly on the import of paper for newspapers would mean higher prices. They sought to solve this by working together to import, stock and sell paper, and applied for funds to buy and establish paper stock. GamPrint was a succesful venture until some newspapers stopped paying bills and made it impossible to continue.

Funding: IMS and voluntary work.

2007-08: GPU-GAMES’ first big project with CISU

Goal: to create an effective organizational structure for GPU, to start up projects, and to develop new proposals for projects to partners and donors.

Result: The one-year “Partnership activtity” project reinforced the cooperation between GAMES and GPU by initiating five colleague-to-colleague courses with different Gambian media about layout, photography, radio, journalism and editorial management. With this project, GAMES became a ”partner-on-the-ground” and the relations to GPU’s affiliates, such as the newly created Editors Forum, were strengthened.

Funding: 400.000 DKK from CISU and voluntary work.

2006: Course in election coverage

Goal: Improving the skills of political reporters in Gambia about critical and just coverage of the coming election.

Result: GAMES sent teachers for two courses prepared with the partners GPU, FreeVoice from the Netherlands, and the Danish IMS. With these courses GAMES established its position as provider of customized professional training, and the Gambian colleagues learned about methods to cover the election without directly confronting and opposing authorities.

Funding: FreeVoice, IMS and voluntary work.

2006: International coalition for freedom of press

Goal: A common strategy in the fight for freedom of press in The Gambia and support for persecuted colleagues

Result: GAMES participated in a strategy conference in Senegal with GPU, International Media Support (IMS), Article 19, MFWA (Ghana), Media Rights Agenda (Nigeria), IFJ (Western Africa) and others. This made it possible to start court cases in ECOWAS and the African human rights court about the killing of Deyda Hydara, about unconstitutional press laws and when “Chief” Ebrima Manneh was abducted by the intelligence service NIA and not seen again. Chief Manneh was a reporter on the pro-government newspaper Daily Observer and a good friend of GAMES.

Funding: IMS and voluntary work.

2006: Campaign for the release of imprisoned journalists

Goal: To create international pressure for the release of the new president of GPU, Madi Ceesay, and other prisoners.

Result: GAMES contacted the Danish government and other countries’ representations in Gambia, as well as international media organizations, to advocate for the release of Musa Seydikam, editor in chief of the now closed down newspaper The Independent, of the paper’s administrative editor Madi Ceesay and of others that were arrested after the coverage of an alleged coup attempt in The Gambia. GAMES also worked on the campaign with the Gambian civil society organization FLARE. Everyone involved were released from custody, some escaped out of the country.

Funding: voluntary labour.

2006: The foundation of GAMES

Goal: To support colleagues and media in Gambia

Result: A group of Danish journalists and communication professionals founded the organization in March. Several of the members were employees of Journalisthøjskolen and former students in the “Journalistik fra hele verden”-course. The school was made an institutional member.

Funding: membership fees are 150 DKK + lots of voluntary labour

First advocacy mission

Goal: To show moral support to Gambian colleagues and attract international attention to the pressure to investigate the murder of Deyda Hydara.

Result: GAMES’ assistant director to be, Elise Utke Schiøler, set aside holiday celebrations with her family to take part in the first memorial for the murdered editor and former director of GPU, Deyda Hydara, who was gunned down on the street the previous year. The government made no attempt to investigate his death. We were the only international organization represented at the memorial.

Funding: Lars Møller and voluntary labour.

2005: Fact-finding mission

Goal: To analyze the need for and build credibility for a support organization, Gambia Media Support.

Result: During a study trip two Danish journalists visited a number of media organizations; the Gambia Press Union, newspapers, tv-stations and radio stations. All were supportive and pointed to GPU as partner organization and stated that education and training were the areas where our help and support were most needed. A report was made to chart the media landscape, share data with our coming partners and formulate different paths of action.

Funding: free labour.

2003-2004: The prelude to GAMES: Danish journalists in Gambia

In the previous years, Danmarks Journalisthøjskole arranged study trips to Gambia as part of the open education course “Journalism from all over the world”.

The students were educated journalists, communication professionals and consultants and the course leader was freelance-journalist, associate college lecturer and member of the board of IMS, Lars Møller.

At some point, GPU president Demba A. Jawo asked Lars Møller to help raise funding for a three month basic course in journalism. UNESCO in Paris provided funding.

One team visited the editor of The Point, Deyda Hydara, former president of GPU, who was an open-mouthed man and in opposition to the government’s restrictive press laws. He was murdered the following year, December 14th, 2004.