15 January 2010

Crying in the rain

By Lamin S. Darboe
September 2009

Rice harvesting was at its peak, and all the women were busy trying to get their rice from the fields. I was already nine months old in my mother's stomach. Then on one Thursday afternoon, just before sunset, as narrated by my grandmother, my mother gave birth to me. "I heard a groan under the baobab tree that stood at the foot of the rice fields. I rushed there to find out what was happening, and not to my surprise, I was welcomed by the crying of a beautiful baby." my grandmother Jankey said.
"It was in the evening and the rain cloud was quickly covering the sky. Everyone was in a hurry to get home." She added. Jankey always smile pleasingly anytime she told me about how I came into this world. I was born there, under the baobab tree. The tree that would also became the symbolic tree whose roots would be soaked with the blood of my legs, the blood of my womanhood.

08 August 2008

Gambia’s Dr. Janneh Launches Books in Bristol, UK

Friday, August 08, 2008
The works of an erudite Gambian scholar and academician, Dr. Sabarr S. Janneh, were recently showcased in the Southmead area of Bristol, United Kingdom.Speaking to his audience, the fledgling author recounted his unsuccessful attempts at publishing his books in The Gambia and Senegal. Notwithstanding the financial cost involved, Dr. Janneh has now succeeded in publishing three of his thirteen books 'Learning from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad’, Mansa Tolo’(Coronation) and ’Saa-ba Mini-Yang baa’(Mighty Python) are the titles of the three books launched. The books are priced £14.99, £6.99 and £6.99 respectively on the advice of his publishers.Commenting on the first title, Dr. Janneh said the book expels all expressions that Islam is a religion of violence. ‘Islam has come to civilise human beings, to elevate human beings from the lower stratum of life to the highest position and standard’, pointing out that humans are the viceroys of the Creator of everything - God.

23 September 2007

Creating Our Own Foundations: The History, Present, and Future of Gambian Literature

by Rosamond S. King, Ph.D.
Adapted from a Presentation at a University of The Gambia Seminar Co-Sponsored by The US Embassy in The Gambia, 23 May 2007, Kanifing
Usually when I tell someone I am researching Gambian literature, their response is – is there any? Unfortunately, even other Gambians are not aware of our novels, poems, and plays. There is indeed Gambian literature, and it includes more than 75 texts published over 200 years! This brief essay, adapted from a talk I gave in May at the University of The Gambia, will share with you some of my research – an overview of the literature’s history and its current trends. In the original talk I also showed clips from some of the more than a dozen interviews I conducted, dvd copies of which are now part of the National Library’s Gambiana collection.
The title of this talk is taken from interviews I conducted with Nana Grey-Johnson and Swaebou Conateh. When I asked Grey-Johnson to describe the state of Gambian literature, he said “We are creating our own foundations.” And Conateh compared writing to constructing buildings – putting words together is, he said, like building blocks. I think the phrase “creating our own foundations” also works as a metaphor for our literature – The Gambia is seen as having very little that does not come from abroad or is not overwhelmingly influenced by foreigners. But Gambian literature was and is, by definition, created by Gambians. Gambians themselves have built the foundations for present and future writers. I hope my research in some way also contributes to these foundations.
My research focuses on published Gambian literature written in English for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the majority of written (as opposed to oral) Gambian literature is in English, and English is the country’s chosen official language and medium of educational instruction. I strongly encourage criticism of the small but growing numbers of written texts in other Gambian languages. Gambian orature, the rich oral traditions which include poetry, stories, praisesongs, and riddles, can be linked to literature, but it is a genre unto itself and deserves separate analysis. I also want to say a word about the term literature – Gambians tend to think of literature as any kind of writing published in book form. My work, though, focuses on creative writing, that is poetry, fiction, and plays.

21 August 2007


New and Selected Poems
Published March 2007
by Tijan M. Sallah
Dream Kingdom is a fascinating selection of the Gambian poet Tijan M. Sallah’s poetry, which in his own words reflects “the mystical and mythical basis for all poetry.” This book includes selections from most of the poet’s four collections of poetry: When Africa Was a Young Woman (1980), Kora Land (1989), Dreams of Dusty Roads (1993), and Harrow (unpublished). It also includes some unpublished new poems. The poet notes, “the volume is a backward gaze at midlife, a selective stocking…” “Midlife” the poet reflects, “is the peak of the mountain of life. I look down and fear the fall. Dreams descend from their unrealism to the ground.” The poems in this selection reflect a rich and generous imagination, spanning over twenty five years of poetic artistry, ranging from personal experiences of coping with adversity; ordinary experiences of family, love and friendship relationships; to struggles with African politics; to journeys to Persia and ethical musings on America and global injustices in Bosnia and elsewhere; to intellectual flirtations with the mythic and the mystical. These poems are deceptively simple as they are amazingly rich, and they paint the imaginative world of one of Africa’s most talented poets of the post-Achebe and Soyinka generation.