George Christensen
George Christensen

(JollofNews) – Poignant tributes have been pouring in on Facebook to a prominent Gambian radio journalist and founder of the Gambia’s first private FM radio station, Radio 1 FM.

George Christensen, who is also the proprietor of GVC Media Company, died in the Gambia on Friday shortly after he returned from an International Civil Society Forum on Gambia held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

Paying tribute to him, Tombong Saidy, former managing director of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) wrote: “The Gambia has lost another legend and an icon in the broadcast industry. George Christensen operated the first FM Radio station in the Gambia where most future broadcasting greats were trained. Broadcasters such as Fatou Fatou Gugulethu Dibba, Fatu Camara and others went through him. His mark and contributions in the development of the Gambia will forever be remembered. George was a freedom fighter and believes in justice for all. Attempts were made to shut him up by burning Radio 1 FM which resulted in partially destroying the studio. This did not stop George from continuing to fight for justice. George contributed in fighting against National Media Commission against its undemocratic rules among others fights and battles he was involved in. He will surely be missed.”

“Gibairu Janneh, a former executive member of the Gambia Press Union wrote: “My night has just been shattered by news of the sudden death of my mentor, teacher and critique. He introduced me to journalism and has since then continued to serve as the editor and critique of my work. His candid opinions on my work and advice on my personal life continue to guide me to this day. It is with deep sorrow that I received the news that your are gone-George Christensen. A doyen of Gambian journalism has just left us. But in this hard time, I am contend with know that we are all from Allah and to him we shall return. He gives and takes and has never acted contrary to the best interest of mankind. He shall surely bless you and as you start this long eternal long journey, I pray that you find comfort in the heavens.”

Sainey MK Marenah of the Diasporium Online Newspaper wrote: “OMG! I can’t believe that death has snatch our uncle, mentor, veteran Gambian journalist and media chief, George Christensen formerly of Radio 1 in Banjul. Today [Friday] at around 12pm, I was with Uncle George in Dakar after spending nearly three days with him looking healthy and able. His last words to me: ‘ Keep working hard and always aim higher and keep your heads up. You’re stubborn (Laugh) but intelligent young man and i have no doubt you will succeed if you remain focus,’ Uncle George told me not knowing that he is giving me his final words of wisdom. His death has made me mute and keep wondering whether the news of his death is really true? Please join me in praying for the departed soul of this awesome man to perfectly rest in peace. My condolence to the family!”

Also paying tribute to the veteran journalist, Mai Ahmad Fatty, leader of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) wrote: “I am greatly saddened by the death of Mr. George Christensen. We spent the past three days together at the International Civil Society Forum on the Gambia, seeking common solutions to the nation’s political debacle. He was a unifying voice of reason and compassion. The Gambia lost a true national icon. May he be received in paradise. Our condolence to his family and the Gambian nation.”

Ba Tambadou, a human rights lawyer wrote: “Oh dear! George was a good man who always

George Christensen (Photo credit: Sainey MK Marenah)
George Christensen (Photo credit: Sainey MK Marenah)

made his resources available in the national interest. In the early days, he made his Radio 1 FM studio available to those of us who were interested in civic education and debates about the political and economic direction of our country until his studio was attacked by arsonists. My heart goes out to my sister Mary and the children. May his gentle soul rest in eternal peace.”

Sidi Sanneh, a US-based Gambian blogger and former Foreign minister wrote: “I am still in shock at the news that George Christensen is no longer with us after spending the past 4 days or so together in Dakar. Last Friday, he shook my hand at the Pullman Teranga, as he routinely does, this time, on his way to the airport to take his flight to his beloved Banjul – a town he never abandoned but will not be able to bid adieu the way he would have liked. In the 4 short days we’ve been together, I have learned more about the distribution and management of radio frequencies and terrestrial digital radio stations than I ever thought possible. George was a very special human being who contributed significantly to Gambian journalism and an effective player in the international arena on a variety of subjects. I’ll miss those “Koto, what do you think”. Even when we were separated by the Atlantic, we have always remained in contact.”

Madi Jobarteh, programme manager of The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in the Gambia (TANGO) wrote: “It is with deep sadness and shock I received the demise of a compatriot and a fellow journalist Uncle George Christensen. This is a huge loss indeed. I’ve lost a comrade and compatriot. His sense of national pride and professional ethics were exemplary. He was indeed a pioneer. I will continue to cherish the great moments and ideas we shared. Not only did he open the first Gambian private radio but he also pioneered free speech on air with it. The Radio 1 FM hour was an open forum for national debate on national issues. He was Gambia’s first radio talk-show host. He became a direct victim of press freedom but never relented. Until his death he maintained his cool and never sold his soul despite the threats and temptations and opportunities. He remained true to the Gambia and journalism.George was a true believer of democracy and human rights and continued to hope and work for the building of the capacity of the young. A man full of pride and dignity who would not stoop low for a mess of pottage. He remained resistant and uncompromising for freedoms and truth. George was cool. Soft spoken. Smiling face with sharp looks. An embodiment of charm and humour. A very steadfast man. He represented the highest of our ideals and values. The quintessential African Personality. He deserves an eternal recognition by Africa, the Gambia and the GPU in particular. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Amen”

Olugander Abukpapa, a prominent Gambian Reggae artist wrote: “Uncle George was a great man who contributed to Gambian music. He offered free air time for Gambia music and gave many radio shows including myself at Radio 1 Fm Fajara, which was the biggest radio that was uplifting the youths ina dem time deh.”