By Ousman Sillah
A veteran broadcaster, with more than three decades of service in the public media, was laid to rest yesterday, Thursday, 28 July 2016, at the Old Jeshwang Cemetry before a large crowd of sympathisers, comprising relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbours from the Greater Banjul Area.
Mr. Ebrima Cole, the former Director of Information and Broadcasting, passed away on Tuesday, 26 July, in Dakar, Senegal, after he was evacuated from the Bafrow hospital in Serekunda for further treatment the previous day. He was escorted by Modou Joof, one of his in laws, but could not finally make it.
Ebrima Cole was born at 7 Long Street in Banjul on 5 August 1948 to the late Alhaji Widew Abdoulie Cole and the late Aja Amina Cole. He was, however, given to one of his aunts, the late Aja Maimuna Rahman of 69 Dobson Street in Banjul, who gave him a good upbringing of service and respect to others. He is the eldest among his surviving siblings of two brothers and five sisters.
He started his primary schooling at St. Joseph (Roman) and then St. Augustine’s High School from where he proceeded to sixth form at Gambia High School, all in Banjul.
He started his professional career at Radio Gambia after leaving school in 1969. He received his training at the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Deutsch Welle (Germany) among other professional trainings around the world.
Ebrima Cole rose through the ranks and became the head of Radio Gambia. He was working with veteran media colleagues such as the late Baboucar Gaye, proprietor of Citizen FM and Citizen Newspaper, who was also one of his close friends. He was later appointed as the Director of Information and Broadcasting, a position in which he served until he retired from active service in 2003.
Describing the character and professionalism of Ebrima Cole, Alhaji Serigne Faye, the retired Director of Radio Programmes at the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), said “to say he was a good man is an understatement.”
He said Mr. Cole was one of his mentors when he joined Radio Gambia in 1975. “I can say that it was because of Ebrima Cole that I continued with journalism as a profession as he was giving me all the encouragement and support which made me to change my mind at a time when I wanted to quit for something else as it was very easy at the time to change jobs,” he told symphatisers in the crowded Pipeline Mosque.
Mr. Abdoulie Gassama, the current head of Radio Gambia, also attested to this fact. He also described him as a very good head of department who was concerned about the welfare of his staff.
During his tenure as director, he pioneered certain transformations at the public broadcaster and recommended for the training of some members of staff. He had also served in many national bodies by virtue of his media expertise.
His fellow worshippers at the mosque also vouched for his good character.
Ebrima Cole was married to a veteran broadcaster, Amie Joof, who is the Executive Director of FAMEDEV, a Dakar based regional organisation for gender and media in Africa, and they had three children namely Abdou (based in the US), Widew and Maimuna as well as four other step daughters Fatou Joof, Nyansarang Joof, Sukai Secka, Maimuna Secka and Awa Secka.