On 6 to 11 November 2019, NCAC Director General Hassoum Ceesay led a team of 15 Gambian authors to attend the 27th edition of African Writers Day organized since 1992 by the Association des Ecrivains Senegalaise(AES), the writers body in Senegal. WAG had attended previous editions of the African Writers Day, but something was different this year.
This year The Gambia was Country of Honour for the celebrations, meaning a whole day was dedicated to Gambian writings and literature. The day fell on 9 November 2019. Under the distinguished chairmanship of Honourable Cheikh Tijan Gadio, former Senegal Foreign Minister and writer, the Gambia Literature Day opened with remarks by the Mr. M. Dampha, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism and Culture who spoke on behalf of the Minister Hon. Hamat N.K Bah, who was unavoidable absent, but who had given full support to the Gambian delegation. Dampha said that the Government was quote aware of the role of that writers can play in national reconciliation and national cohesion and urged the Gambian writers to be always conscious of the power of the pens to bring about societal good. Mr. Hassoum Ceesay thanked the Hon. Minister Bah for his strong support to make the event a possibility. He said the NCAC was conscious of its role to promote Gambian literature which is why it sponsored fully the participation of The Gambian delegation to attend The Gambian Literature Day. ‘Our mission here adheres to the needs of the National Development Plan of Government. Our writers include youth who aspire to become literary entrepreneurs. Youth who wish to build consciousness and national development through literature’. Dr. Cherno Omar Barry, President of WAG thanked the President of Senegal Writers Association Mr. Alioune Badara Beye for the honour he has bestowed on The Gambian writers and Gambian literature. He said the moment was unique as it was historical in the development of Gambian writing.
The speeches were followed by presentations on various aspects of Gambian literature; readings of poems, stories by Gambian writers like Michael H. Secka, Aisha Jawara, Rohey Fofana; and there was a very animated reaction from the floor, from Senegalese writers, and writers from other countries present like Cameroon, Niger, Congo, Chad. Henry Djombo, author from Congo, and Minister of Forests, was Parrain for this year’s event which was covered extensively by the Dakar and Banjul press.
There was an exhibition of books by Gambian authors and a display of pictures of faces of Gambian writers from Phyllis Wheatley, the slave poet to the current generation of authors. Indeed, this was a momentous day for Gambian literature and a great day for NCAC’s quest to promote Gambian arts and culture.
Gambian authors who attended expressed satisfaction at the experience they went through and feel higly inspired in their calling, and were also full of praises for the NCAC and Hon Bah for the very strong support they were accorded in this programme. Minister Bah and Minister Tangara were awarded for their support by the AES, and WAG, and Dr Barry was awarded the Novel Prize for his work in promoting Gambian literature.