SLAJ President, Ahmed SahidNasralla, has challenged female journalists to stand up and be counted in an industry that continues to be dominated by their male counterparts.
Speaking at the opening of a book of condolence for the late veteran journalist Daisy Elizabeth Bona on Friday 27th August 2021 at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, SLAJ Headquarters, in Freetown, Nasralla urged women in the media to build on the legacy of the late media icon.
“You can imagine the mediascape in the 70s, 80s, and 90s under a One Party system of governance. The frequent raids on newspaper offices; the arbitrary arrests; unlawful detentions and imprisonments; the harassments and intimidations…
“And it is during that dark period that our late elder sister, Daisy Elizabeth Bona, stood up to be counted in a male-dominated profession.
“She was a founding member of SLAJ, and a woman of many firsts. She was the first female president of SLAJ; the first to serve two terms as president of SLAJ: (1973 to 1976 and 1985 to 1986); first President of the West Africa Journalists Association (WAJA); first female newspaper proprietress and first female editor (The Flash newspaper and Leone Woman magazine).
“And 50 years since SLAJ was founded she has been the only female president of the Association. I read the glowing tributes by Bernadette Cole, another foundation member, and Betty Foray who worked with the late woman. I grow goose pimples every time I read these tributes.
“Aunty Daisy was indeed a man in a female body. Betty describes her as a mother hen; Bernadette says: she dared where angels feared to tread.
“So to you women in the media, there’s no more excuse. If Daisy could do it in a period when freedom of speech and of the press couldn’t breathe under the knees of a one-party government and the obnoxious criminal and seditious libel law, you have no excuse not to surpass Aunty Daisy’s prowess and achievements in this age when we have democracy, and the criminal libel is no more.
“You should draw inspiration from this great media icon, and you have a duty to build on her legacy.”
Furthermore, Nasralla also challenged senior journalists in the Veteran Journalists Union Sierra Leone (VEJU) who practiced during that period and served in various Executives and Committees of SLAJ, to recount their experiences and document them for posterity.
“It is your (VEJU) responsibility to tell your stories so they can be documented; and passed on from generation to generation.
“When you tell your own stories, it is more credible, more authentic, because it’s like you are reliving your past.
“The younger generation of journalists deserve to know those who were there before them and what they did and failed to do. If you don’t write now, you all stand to be lost in the fog of neglect,” said the SLAJ President.