26 November 2004

History of Gambian literature


Gambian English literature, considered to be in its emergence stage, is first expressed through books and publications which is easy to identify and list down. It is however fundamental to note the different places these Gambian writers publish their works.

Authors published outside The Gambia (to be updated)

Dr Lenrie Peters, Gabriel Roberts, Sheriff Sarr, Tijan Sallah, Ebou Dibba, Sally Singhateh have all published in great Anglophone publishing houses in the UK, The United States and India. Essa Colley and Bala Saho published in Finland and Scandinavia respectively, and Essa Bokarr Sey in Hungary.

Authors published in The Gambia (to be updated)

Nana Grey Johnson, Swaebou Conateh, Hassum Ceesay, Ebou Gaye, Musa Jallow, Joseph Joof, Cherno Jatta and Charles Thomas have all published in the Gambia. The BPMRU and the NEW TYPE PRESS have played important roles in assuring the success of these publications.

Renown Publications

Though books published by famous publishing houses are easily accessible and assures almost automatically certain fame for the authors, however, if it were the author who publishes his or her book outside The Gambia, the books are hard to find and consequently the authors are not well known even in the Gambia.
For books printed in the Gambia, they are totally guaranteed by their authors, as there is no such thing as a publishing house in The Gambia (The BPMRU Book Production Unit being a government printing department depending on the Department of State for Education). Even if these authors are known in The Gambia (which is not evident as there is almost no reading culture here), they are still unknown in the wider world as there is no structure responsible for distribution.
Today, only five or six Gambian authors can be considered renown outside The Gambia. It would therefore be erroneous to consider Gambian literature as non-existent, or almost non-existent. To prove the contrary and avoid such hasty and erroneous conclusion is what motivates us to produce these articles on Discovering Gambian Literature. The objective is to prove that there exist, in this very country, a collective literary reality, despite the difficulty it entails in collecting all the information required to complete and complement this task. A large part of this can be found in the Gambian newspapers and many others are kept in cupboards where their authors still contemplate on when and how their publications would ever be possible.
Before any further step is taken to ensure continuity in our presentation of authors in depth, it would be convenient to express our sincere gratitude to certain people who have worked hard to collect all the information here published.
Our thanks goes to Dr Jean Dominique PĂ©nel (the initiator of the whole project), Mr Saihou Bah (First Editor-in-Chief of the french page of The Daily Observer [Observer Plus] and the French magazine La Lune, Principal Sheick Mass Kah Senior and Junior Secondary Schools and Lecturer Alliance Franco-Gambienne), Dr Momodou Tangara (Lecturer, University of The Gambia), Ms Isatou Niang, Ms Aissa Dabo (Journalist, APPA Online newspaper), Mr Sadibou Badjie (Undergraduate UoTG) and Mr Pierre Gomez (Ph D student, University of Limoges, Head of Department for French and Lecturer Gambia College, Part-time lecturer, UoTG).

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