Born in Oslo in 1979, N’jie says her life has been much the same as anyone else’s but she’s quick to admit that growing up as a black person in Norway has impacted her in many ways. “When it comes to my identity as a Gambian-Norwegian, my knowledge is really more about being a visible minority in Norway and being black in a white country.
“From a very early age I started thinking, ‘Who am I, where do I belong and what kind of person do I want to be?’ So I started to make my own platform in a way, somewhere I could be without people, without having to defend myself in a way…I have my own room where I can be Gambian, Norwegian, black or white.”
Watch her interview on CNN
With a Gambian father and a Norwegian mother, she is both a successful singer with three solo music albums under her belt and a famous TV presenter, having hosted, among others, the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest from her hometown of Oslo.
“I can do whatever what I want, I can define myself in whatever way I want,” N’jie told CNN from the capital of Norway. “As a journalist, as a writer, as an artist, musician, black or white, Gambian or Norwegian, and no one can tell me I can’t be this, I can’t be that.”
N’jie’s multifarious personality has earned her celebrity status in Norway — the fun-loving and free speaking performer has grown to become one of the country’s most instantly recognizable faces.
She says she needs to live “an asymmetrical life,” one that embraces all the different elements that have shaped her upbringing.
“People always ask me, ‘What is the most important thing for you? Is it the music, the journalism, what’s most important for you?’ I need all of it. If I just do music, I get so tired of myself after a while that I have to do something else, and when I’m just a journalist I really need to sing and write music or express myself in a more subjective way, so I need it all.”
One of her jobs as a presenter is to host an annual fundraising telethon for Norwegian broadcaster NRK that raises money for noteworthy causes. This year’s proceeds will be used to help and protect people fleeing from conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Sudan, among others.
Much of N’jie’s knowledge about Africa comes from her Gambian father, but she’s also traveled to the continent on a number of occasions. She recently visited the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya — a trip that she says had a profound impact on her.
“I met young people that are really ambitious, that really want to do something good with their lives. But they’re just victims of a war that they have no way of resolving, they are just stuck in a refugee camp so they have no way of fulfilling their dreams.” Continue reading