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Gambian diplomat makes history publishing first fiction in N’ko

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In a landmark achievement for Gambian literature, diplomat and academician Alieu SK Manjang has broken new ground by releasing the first-ever work of fiction in the N’ko within the Gambia. Manjang’s novel, titled “Kekoi nin Kanburama,” or (Kekoi and Kanburama) explores the intricate tale of two men whose familial ties become obscured by divorces and immigration leading to the birth of  enmity and hatred within one family.

The N’ko, an alphabet developed by Guinean scholar Solomana Kante in 1949, has experienced a resurgence across West African nations like Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso. This revival has significantly contributed to increased literacy rates in West African communities where its use is prevalent, promoting cultural identity and language preservation. Notably, N’ko is now part of the curriculum at prestigious universities globally, including Harvard University, Cairo University, and numerous other institutions, underscoring its growing international influence.

In the Gambia, the N’ko has gained momentum with the establishment of three dedicated schools and multiple WhatsApp groups facilitating learning. Thousands of Gambians have enthusiastically embraced N’ko, achieving mastery in the alphabet within a remarkably short span of two years.

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Alieu SK Manjang, currently based in Qatar where he is pursuing a Ph.D. focused on language as a soft power tool in higher education, brings a wealth of academic and diplomatic experience to his literary endeavors. A graduate of Al-Azhar University with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication, Manjang holds three Master’s degrees in Public Policy and Gulf Studies. Fluent in Arabic and English, he has authored several book chapters, journal articles, and a book on Middle East Politics, Public Diplomacy, and Foreign Aid. Additionally, Manjang has presented research papers at esteemed international conferences held in the UK, Italy, Belgium, and Qatar.

“Kekoye nin Kanburama” promises to be a significant contribution to Gambian literature, demonstrating the narrative potential of N’ko while addressing profound themes of family dynamics, identity, and reconciliation. Manjang’s achievement highlights the global impact of national language revitalization efforts and underscores the transformative power of literature in fostering cultural awareness and appreciation.

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