Meet Journailist Mustapha K. Darboe, Winner of Many Awards  

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By Makutu Manneh

Mustapha K. Darboe has undoubtedly carved out an enduring legacy for himself in the Gambian media. His 10 years career in journalism started in June 2014 at Today Newspaper.

At 35 years old, he has won more than 20 GPU National Journalism Awards, scooping different categories each year. He has also won the African Prize for Investigative Journalism 2023.

Over the years, Darboe has become a role model to many Gambian journalists, especially the young.

To Darboe, there is nothing special about winning awards.

“Work hard. Stay the course, all those who stand for the course of the people will be recognised,” he said.

The investigative journalist believes that when you stand for the people, you will be acknowledged whether by an awards committee like in his case or by the people themselves.

He added that there is no secret in making wave stories and that if there is any, it is learning from torchbearers before them, love for the country, freedom and one’s self but nothing extraordinary.

Darboe sees his awards as victory for war on corruption and inefficiency, victory for whistleblowers who always find him and the team worthy to work with and for Malagen’s team of five (5).  

 “I am a mix bag of many influences. As I grew, I interacted with many people. Some I just read their stories. Along the way, I came to know Junkunda Daffeh and read briefly about him. This had a huge impact on me,” he said.

“As a socialist myself, my early political consciousness has been largely shaped by what I read in the Foroyaa Newspaper, though I have no visible political attachment to any entity. I remain a keen follower of ideas as they are expressed.”  

After acquiring an HND in Mass Communication, Darboe started as a reporter in Today Newspaper. Soon after, he was promoted to a news editor.

“I was very active in the field, never liked editing,” Darboe said.

Few months later, in 2015, he left Today for The Standard Newspaper, doubling it with a correspondence job with the Turkey state news agency, Anadolu. Working with Anadolu, Darboe said it kept him busy, nourished and his remuneration improved making him more active in Gambian newsrooms without worrying much about pay.

Darboe recollected that The Standard Newspaper was a good experience for him as it availed him the opportunity to meet people he would come to cherish, particularly Saikou Jammeh and Talibeh Hydara.

In 2016 when former President Yahya Jammeh was defeated in the election, Darboe cut all ties with local newspapers focusing only on his correspondence with Anadolu. However, in 2018, he started working with Kerr Fatou as a producer and editing content for their website.

In 2019, while still working with Kerr Fatou, he had another freelance job with Switzerland-based Justice Info—a news site that focuses on human rights related contents.

“Time swung by, my interest in journalism sharpened, so was my capacity. There was a need to do more. The current restrictions in both the environment and nature of newspaper work as we saw it was too conducive for journalists with interest in investigative journalism,” he said.

“Saikou Jammeh was leaving the Gambia Press Union. At least, we knew we had one fundraiser and an editor in Saikou and a field worker in me.”

Darboe said due to these combinations, they started Malagen in 2020. Malagen, he revealed, is a team dedicated to do the best for the country in respect to accountability.

“Malagen is the table where all anti-corruption efforts meet and to all those hands on that table, congratulations,” Darboe compliments.

He said before them there was an army like Malagen such as Junkunda Daffeh, Samuel Sarr and E.F Small. He advised young journalists to be resolute and read about the history of the trade in the Gambia and draw inspiration from it.

Darboe’s Various Awards

2016: Environment reporting award.

2017: Human rights reporting award.

2019: Environment reporting award, Political reporting award, Human rights reporting award, Print and online reporting award.

2020: Environment reporting award, Human rights reporting award, Legal affairs reporting award, Investigative and features writing award, Special covid-19 reporting award, Journalist of the year award.

2021: Business & Finance reporting award, Environment reporting award, Legal affairs reporting award, Investigative reporting award, Journalist of the year award.

2023: Investigative reporting, Human right reporting award, Journalist of the year.