When Nollywood Success Opens Doors to The Presidency

-Actress Binta Goudiaby Fetes achievements with President Yahya Jammeh and Gambians

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Yaya Jammeh of Gambia and Nollywood Actress Binta Goudiaby
President Yaya Jammeh of Gambia and Nollywood Actress Binta Goudiaby

It was a most memorable trip says hard working Nollywood actress Binta Goudiaby upon her return from the Republic of Gambia where she was received by President Yahya Jammeh .Though born in Senegal, Binta’s mother hails from the Gambia and part of her childhood was actually spent there. Binta who won big at the 2012 Nollywood & African Film Critics‘(NAFCA) Awards in the USA proudly presented her trophy to President Jammeh. In the company of a delegation from NAFCA which was part of the trip, President Jammeh was presented with “Life Time Achievement,” award from NAFCA.  It was not all about movies for Binta, as the work of her Djibonkete Foundation created to help women through education and entrepreneurship also occupied center stage. In an interview with PAV,Binta shares her trip and attempts to share  more on Gambia.

Binta, may we understand why you were in Gambia; what took you there?

I was born in Senegal but I grew up equally between Gambia where my mother is from and Senegal.   Also, I’m a humanitarian and an actress, so I was invited by the President to honor my NAFCA 2012 trophy for best actress of the year and to discuss the progress I am making with my Djibonkete foundation.  But in the meantime, His Excellency President Yaya Jammeh was awarded the very prestigious “Life Time Achievement” NAFCA trophy by Nollywood. So, Nollywood delegates made the trip with me to Gambia, to hand the trophy in person to the president, during an official ceremony.

How familiar are people from Gambia with your work in Nollywood and how was the reception you received?

I received a warm welcome from the government and the friendly open minded people of Gambia. They are very happy people and they love their country.  They know my work very well and love it. I am very proud of that.

So you were received by President Yahya Jammeh, how were you able to get the opportunity to meet with him?

He was the one who invited me and I really appreciate that. He has a great respect for everything that can help Africa make progress and move forward. I suppose that is what attracts him the most  about  my Djibonkete Foundation. It is a foundation that was established to empower women by mainly helping in their education, entrepreneurship and thereby financial independence. It also helps students from poor family backgrounds  get a better education, amongst other things.

So what are some of the issues that you discussed with the President, any projects you shared with him and was he willing to support you?

We talked mostly about my trophy, my foundation and how it can help the country. He loves talking to people with ideas on how to make Africa a better place for its citizens.  He is a big supporter of the movie industry and that in itself helps me and my foundation. NAFCA CEO, Dr. Victor Olatoye and I also discussed with the president about Nollywood, the movie Industry and the trophy he received.

Not much is known about President Jammeh of the Gambia, what kind of leader did he strike you as, was he easy to converse with, what impressions did you have generally after your meeting with him?

He is a very nice, kind and patient person. He was very easy to talk to and down to earth. He seems like a strong leader and I learned a lot from him.

Talking about Gambia, from the little that is out there, the perception is that it is ruled by a dictator, that there are limited freedoms, people cannot express themselves etc, what is it you found out about that country that people who have never been there may not know?

When I look at him, I don’t see a dictator. I see someone who loves his country and who is working hard to make it achieve the best development and reach the highest level in the world standards.  Gambia is very peaceful. Everyone has a job, companies are run by the young and they are very successful, there is a lot of tourism and a low crime rate.  The people are so wonderful and they get along so well with each other. The President may have a different approach to problem solving that some people may not agree with, but it seems like things are getting done.

President Jammeh and the Lifetime achievement presented to him by NAFCA
President Jammeh and the Lifetime achievement presented to him by NAFCA

You are more of a cultural and entertainment person, what kind of potential and opportunities did you see in the Gambia , be it tourism, investment or anything else?

There are many opportunities and the tourism industry is doing well and making investments into the country is always a good idea because that contributes to the growth of the country.  Gambia is also a wonderful place to make more movies because the country is so beautiful and hospitable.

Besides meeting the President, what do you consider as some of the successes of your visit and what next after that, what should Gambians expect from you?

Meeting the President was part of that success and also a great honor.  My presence in Gambia allowed me to think about what my next move should be but I’m still in the thinking process. However, I believe that Gambians should expect me to do my part to improve the movie industry and to spread knowledge about the culture.

With regards to your movie career, any other projects you are working on or have in mind?

We’re planning to shoot more movies in Gambia but I don’t want to spoil anything so you have to wait and see.

Binta,  good luck in your ventures and thanks so much for talking to PAV

Thank you very much for having me here.


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