The African continent has been far behind the rest of the world when it comes to professional media, but our next Millennial highlight has her sights on a career like the likes of Oprah, Debra Lee of BET and Tyler Perry. “Sista” Sally Njie has spent the better part of 15 years curating the Gambian media and entertainment scene during a time when the country was under the rule of a President who wasn’t very fond of free press.
First working as a radio music and sports presenter, Njie admits she wasn’t always outspoken but developed a competitive spirit growing up with brothers which led to her being at the top of her career in the male dominated field.
“I want to change the status quo of women always being second in everything” say Sista Njie. “I always believed women could do better and we deserve better.”
During her time on the radio she created a show called “Speak Your Mind” which became the most controversial show in Gambia by providing a platform for often silenced voices to finally be heard.
The show went on for 5 years inspiring an annual award show and leading to Sista Njie hosting Gambia’s largest music festival before nearly 20,000 spectators.
When asked what challenges she faces in this stage of her career she replied, “Stigma and discrimination. It appears quite often that I am always that one lady in the midst of men [and] I get the vibe of superiority most of the time.” But that didn’t stop her from co-hosting the longest running entertainment TV show on Gambia national television (Fiila), another radio show (LoudGambia) discussing social issues that affect society and launching her own media and entertainment company (Brand Plus) which “answers to all the entertainment needs of the Gambia” says Njie.
As a millenial Sista Njie carries the burden of contributing to the destruction of stereotypes and anything else we no longer tolerate about our not so perfect world. Her fight, she says, is not only for gender equality but also against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and child marriages.
“My mother inspired me a lot to be the woman I have become.” says Sista. “I haven’t seen a woman as strong as my mother [the way she] loves her family and is supportive of whatever we’re into.” she explains. “The continuous striving of women” Njie says, has inspired her to continue her journey in media and entertainment. ”
Young people in The Gambia have been outwardly active in social issues for years. In the 20+ year reign of former President Yahya Jammeh, many young Gambians were the ones to speak up in protest of his policies leading to a vocal revolution in the Smiling Coast. Those same young people today, 16 months after his exile are at the forefront of rebuilding their country’s infrastructure and democratic system.
Sally, has used her time and resources to “create platforms to access content about our entertainment stakeholders [offering] them services to uplift their careers and most importantly create employment.” says Sally. “Africa is the future so I would like to expand first in Africa and then think globally…My vision [is to see] Africans united and making huge impacts in the different areas as we have a lot to offer.”
In addition to Oprah, Tyler and Debra, Sista Njie also has respect for Nigerian songstress Tiwa Savage, media personalities Linda Ikeji and Berla Mundi, as well as famed actor and director Issa Rae. All huge successes when it comes to using their voice, creativity and media to develop global attention for their brands and various social issues.
“My zeal and passion” according to Sally, is what separates her from others in her industry. She says she feels lucky to have “the opportunity to be a woman, stand up for women and having a career in media and entertainment”
“My husband is my biggest support system” exclaims Sista Njie, “I’m lucky to have him as a partner.”
Banjul, she laughs, should be the Capital of Africa.
Your vote is in, Sista Njie! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!
Author: RJ Mahdi
African American repatriate to West Africa, founder of Made In Africa Project, pan-African activist as well as business and investment consultant broker. Follow me on social media @KingRJMahdi.