The Gambia is the tiniest country in mainland Africa with a population of about 1.8 million. It is surrounded by Senegal on all three side and has the Atlantic Ocean to the west, serving as the mouth of the river Gambia. The country has a small but old and vibrant media until recently. Currently, regulation and or the lack of it has put so much strain on the country’s new media since the dawn of the government of President Yahya AJJ Jammeh. He came to power in 1994 through a “bloodless coup” that ousted first president, Dawda Kairaba Jawara who led the country to independence in 1965. During the Jawara regime, the Gambia was seen as a model for democracy in Africa, owing especially to its respect for fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and press freedom.
The coverage of the crises in Ukraine by the Gambian media is somewhat scanty. This is probably due largely to the poor and lack of resources of the media houses. No media organisation in the country maintains regular correspondents abroad. Most of the news on Ukraine and indeed most if not all international news is adapted from international media such as BBC world service, Al Jazeera English, CNN International, AFP, among others. The selection of news from these international media sites is largely influenced by internal editorial policies of different media houses. Thus, media organisations with conservative tendencies generally reproduce conservative international news about anything, including the crises in Ukraine and vice versa.
However, there are also opinion pieces once in a while on international issues. Political commentators do not fail to share their views on the crises in Ukraine and these commentaries are carried by the media, mostly newspapers. Most of the commentary on the crises in Ukraine in the Gambian media seems to blame the Western powers for the uprising but do not necessarily sympathise with Russia’s decision to support cessation activities in the East. For many, the actions of the Western powers is likened to interference in the domestic matters of another sovereign state and therefore unwarranted. Others on the one hand recognised what they described as “the Ukrainian people’s right” to determine their sense of direction without influence from either the East or the West.