The death of Prime FM founder and renowned Talk Show host, Mamadee Diakite has brought the Liberian media “unbearable grief,” said Abdullai Kamara, Press Union of Liberia (PUL) president, as he re-echoed the pain suffered in the media community.
Kamara, in a tribute to Diakite shortly before signing the Book of Condolence, reflected on the number of media practitioners who have lost their lives in recent time. Though believing that life’s circumstances are the doings of God, he said the increased number of deaths is too much for the media.
Many journalists yesterday converged at the headquarters of the PUL to officially pay their last respects to the late Diakite, whose death shocked the entire nation. Those who turned out to sign the Book of Condolence termed his death as a huge blow to the country.
Kamara described the fallen journalist as a brilliant and eloquent practitioner who won admiration from across the country and the world.
Diakite reportedly succumbed to hypertension (or “pressure” as it is termed by ordinary Liberians) at the Seventh Day Adventist-operated S. D. Cooper Hospital on 12th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia. He was 42. His death brings to three the number of journalists who have lost their lives in the space of one month.
“We wish peace to the souls of all PUL members who have departed this world,” Kamara said, describing the book of condolence signing of PUL members as one of the difficult tasks to perform as president of the union.
“We have had over four Books of Condolence signing ceremonies recently and we are about to sign another one today,” he said, and recounted his first meeting Mamadee in 1998.
“From there,” Kamara narrated, “we became close because we were of the same faith though he had more insight than me. He also helped me in understanding Islam,” he said.
“Mamadee was a very tolerant man. He and I had a lot of conversations and most of the times we disagreed on issues, but these didn’t hinder our relationship,” he said.
“He would usually say Liberia is getting better, but I would tell him a better Liberia is possible. I believe we all were heading in the same direction, though on different paths,” the PUL boss said.
Other popular journalists who lost their lives this year included Lawrence Togar Randall, Numennie Williams, and young Baysah Kollie. Two other prominent journalists, Zoegar Jaynes and Singbe Johnson died in 2014 and 2015 respectively. With these deaths 2016 would be remembered by journalists as one of the most painful years.
“The local media has never been hit in a particular given time than what it is experiencing in recent years. This is indeed a very difficult time for us and it is becoming very difficult to understand,” a distraught journalist said.
Prime FM Director of Radio, Kelvin Demey, who spoke on behalf of the entity, said his boss’s death is still like a dream to him and his colleagues. “My colleagues and I are broken,” Demey said, “Mamadee was passionate about the journalism profession. He had love for no other thing but the radio. He told me to see his investment as ‘our thing’ not his thing.”
According to Demey, Mamadee had the vision to establish sub-stations in other counties. “It is now incumbent upon us to keep Mamadee’s dream alive,” he said, adding that this remains his greatest challenge. “Though it is huge, if I want to see him smiling in his grave, we as a team must live up to this commitment.”
Some past officials of the PUL and prominent journalists also spoke at the ceremony. George Barpeen, Alphonsus Zeon, and Philip Wesseh—regretted the unfortunate situation and urged journalists to be more united.
Kalasco Damaro, who spoke on behalf of the family, said though he is a believer in predestination, Mamadee’s death is hard to take. Mamadee was known for his authoritative voice and noted for his extensive research. He is going to be fondly remembered for these famous, but at times controversial statements: “Bringing sense to the discourse; the motherland shall never fall; Liberia is getting better.” Meanwhile, Mamadee’s funeral rites were subsequently held yesterday at the Newport Street Mosque and interment followed at the Muslim burial plot in Gaye Town, Old Road, at 2 p.m.