Gambia’s former autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh paid a leading Pan-African news magazine, NewAfrican at least $132,000 (D5.28 million dalasis) for a propaganda cover story.
NewAfrican Magazine Deputy Editor ReGina Jane Jere interviewed Jammeh in Banjul in 2013, a day after he severed ties with the Commonwealth.
The publicity stunt saw NewAfrican trying to dismiss claims that Jammeh was living a flamboyant lifestyle. The ex-leader owned a mansion in the U.S., bought luxury cars and redesigned the presidential palace.
But according to ReGina Jane Jere, “the Gambian State House is not decked in flamboyant expensive excesses – well not the little that I saw, at least.”
“For someone, the world is meant to view as one of Africa’s most-feared and ruthless leaders, his official abode negates that persona.
NewAfrican Magazine says Jammeh’s official residence in the island capital of Banjul is rather nondescript unlike many presidential palaces in Africa and beyond.
The magazine’s story on Jammeh started with showing how “many ordinary Africans welcomed” Jammeh’s withdrawal of The Gambia from the Commonwealth.
They dubbed it “a David vs. Goliath scenario when tiny Gambia stood up to a giant, withdrawing its membership from the still largely revered colonial British outfit that is the mighty Commonwealth.”
Jammeh was internationally isolated and seeking relevance as the new Ghadaffi of Africa. A far-fetched dream he believes he can achieve by showing Pan-Africanism by bashing the West in a post-colonial era.
NewAfrican Magazine had written an article favoring Jammeh in 2011 ahead of the country’s presidential elections, saying it is unlikely that the opposition will make much of a dent on the APRC.
The magazine promoted Jammeh as a leader who wanted to strengthen the democratic process in the country, committed to macroeconomic reforms, sustain a strong level of economic growth, and enjoyed overwhelming support.
Jammeh opposite of the propaganda that NewAfrican Magazine ran. A Commission of Inquiry into his financial dealings have so far unearthed that he mismanaged millions and ransacked the treasury before he fled to Equatorial Guinea.