Sixteen Gambian writers have been declared winners at the Gambia Prize for Literature 2022 awards held at the Alliance Française centre on Saturday, 15th October. The awards were organised by the Young Writers of The Gambia (YWAG) under the auspices of the Writers Association of The Gambia, with funding from the French Institute of Senegal, Alliance Française Banjul, Gambia Revenue Authority, Ministry of Youths and Sport, and Africell.
Poet, writer and economist Dr Tijan M Sallah and the late Lady Hannah Augusta Jawara, who wrote under the pen name Ramatoulie Kinteh, won the YWAG Prize for Gambian Literature.
Academic Dr Momodou Sallah and Dr Juka Fatou Jabang won the Tijan Sallah Prize for Gambian Poetry; Charles Thomas and Janet Badjan-Young won the Gabriel J Roberts Prize for Gambian Drama; Teacher Musa Bah and Sally Sadie Singhateh won the Ebou Dibba Prize for Gambian Fiction; Academicians Dr Baba Galleh Jallow and Dr Amina A Sillah won the Baaba Sillah Prize for Non-Fiction; Omar ‘Champion’ Cham and Jainaba Touray won the Momodou Sabally Prize for Spoken Word Poetry; Historians Hassoum Ceesay and Patience Sonko-Godwin won the Dr Ralphina D’Almeida Prize for Gambian History; and young Sanusi Camara and Fatoumatta Bayo won the Nana Grey-Johnson Prize for Emerging Writers.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges comprising Dr Cherno Omar Barry, president of the Writers Association of The Gambia; Mr Sheikh Omar Jallow of the National Centre for Arts and Culture; Momodou Lamin Demba of the University of The Gambia; Mr Michael Hamadi Secka, author and official of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education; and Ndey Kumba Demba of the OIC Gambia Secretariat.
Award winner Dr Tijan Sallah wrote: “I am delighted to learn that I have been awarded the YWAG Prize for Gambian Literature. This is wonderful news… I want to thank YWAG and its panel of judges for the vote of confidence in my work and for bestowing on me this great honour. I write because I think it is important for us to tell our story. Writing is a lonely business and the journey can sometimes seem like thankless drudgery. The journey, however, gets sweet when your own people recognise your work. I urge all of our midnight scribblers to never give up hope… Let me congratulate all the other award recipients. Let me also convey my special thanks to you all, and my appreciation of the dynamic leadership of the YWAG executive team.”
The literary awards were part of the Kunta Kinteh International Book Festival (KKIBF). The initiator of the programme, Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe, described it as a success and said at least 5,000 books written by Gambians were displayed at the exhibition and over 30 renowned Gambian writers attended the events.
“The aim of the KKIBF and The Gambia Prize for Literature, is to honour literary erudition among Gambian writers, and create a literary festival and a vibrant market for Gambian books. We were able to successfully reignite the love for Gambian literature by bringing together two generations of Gambian writers – the generation of Nana Grey-Johnson and the younger generation,” Sowe concluded.