By Ndey Sowe
A veteran Gambian journalist, late Swaebou Conateh was laid to rest at Dippakunda cemetery on November 29 following his demise on Wednesday night.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral including doyens in the media profession, young journalists, executive members of Gambia Press Union, civil servants, state security officers etc.
The burial took place after 2pm prayer at Dippakunda mosque following the congregational prayer which was conducted to pay last respects to the deceased.
In an interview, one of the closest journalists to the deceased Ismaila Naban described Conateh’s death as ‘a difficult moment.’
Naban later took over managerial affairs of the weekly News and Report Magazine which was founded by late Conateh.
“Swaebou was a man who respects the ethics of journalism. The media fraternity has lost a great person because he had been a great mentor for most of us and he loved everybody. It is a very difficult moment for me personally, because he was like a father to me”, he told Foroyaa after the burial.
He said Conateh was one of the senior journalists in the country who had been practising journalism with a high level of integrity. According to him, the deceased had engaged him a lot and he learnt so many things from him.
Naban rose to become editor-in-chief of News and Report before taking charge of all the affairs of the media outlet.
Swaebou is the first Gambian journalist to bag a degree in journalism after he underwent studies in the United States. He later worked at the Information and Broadcasting services of Gambia government.
Naban said his late boss was highly principled and ethically obedient as he had been doing his work to the best of his ability without monetary influence.
Several journalists in the country passed through him including Edrissa Njie who is now the Executive Director of Global Youth Network-The Gambia as well as Madi Ceesay, National Assembly Member for Serekunda West.
Cherno Jallow, a journalism trainer at Insight Trainer Center is a childhood friend of late Swaebou. He said Swaebou is like his biological brother because they shared a lot in common. Jallow and Conateh had both attended Saint Augustine’s High School in Banjul. He said they also worked together at the Information and Broadcasting Services and later joined Gambia Press Union.
“So myself and Swaebou we have spent a better part of our lives in the media. Suwaibou had spent almost 50 years in the media like me. That’s Swaebou. Personally, he is a wonderful fellow and a reliable brother in the sense that he is a reliable fellow,” Jallow said of late Conateh.
He recalled their younger days when there were no banks and Swaebou had to be entrusted to keep their monies and it was always safe.
Jallow urged young journalists to imitate his legacy in terms of dedication, commitment and professionalism as ‘legacy will never die.’
The former Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo said he had worked with Swaebou at various levels in the journalism fraternity including at the Gambia Press Union. He said Conateh was the first broadcasting officer in the country but was still interested in helping journalists which brought two of them in contact as he then served as the president of the GPU.
“I had depended a lot on him for advice on a lot of things that will help us as journalists and young ones”, he said.
Jawo described Swaebou as a humble and a dedicated personality as far as the media and other sectors are concerned.
He encouraged young journalists to emulate the life track of the late Conateh.
“We applauded him for his wonderful job”, he said.
The publisher of Gambia Today, Malick Jones said Swaebou was a father and a mentor to him and others.