Countless Gambian journalists fled threats and intimidation during former-president Yahya Jammeh’s two decades in power.
Now, as J Adama Barrow, a former Argos security guard from Peckham in South London, takes office with promises of a new start for one of Africa’s poorest countries and Jammeh begins his life in exile, some of them are going home.
The last time Sheriff Bojang Jr. came home, 10 years ago, he was arrested at the airport by state intelligence agents and detained for questioning. Now as he travels from Dakar to Banjul it was emotional homecoming.
“I’m on the Gambian soil. First time in many years. It’s unbelievable, it’s surreal…” he said.
Bojang and many other journalists fled and became vocal critic from Dakar, fearing prison or death if he returned to Jammeh’s Gambia.
“If I had to define a few years ago what it meant to be a Gambian, I would have said being Gambian meant being too tolerant and too peaceful that you would allow dictatorship to happen,” Bojang said. “Today what it means to be a Gambian, as far as I’m concerned, is being determined. Determination, courage, optimist, strength, fighting together through thick and thin to change the status quo.”
On his first day back, Bojang made sure to take photos of himself around Banjul and post them on Facebook. He wanted other Gambian exiles to know it is safe to come home.