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Monday, October 18, 2021

Kudos to Dr Gomez

A rare video documentary highlighting the breakthrough in the efforts geared towards gathering bits and pieces of what constitute Gambian literature through the eyes of orature and history has been unveiled at the University of The Gambia. The documentary was commissioned by the acting dean school of Arts and Social Sciences, Dr Pierre Gomez. He’s been one of the most ardent promoters of Gambian literature, the first known Gambian to successfully bag a doctorate in Gambian literature in 2006. As a patriotic citizen, Dr Gomez continued to set in motion what he has been researching, studying and writing. I studied literature under his tutelage. He did not only stop at lecturing, Dr Gomez’s academic engagements revolves around books and words. I can say without any misgivings that his dream is to ensure that a good chunk of Gambian society read more books published by Gambians and about the country. Sometimes during lectures, one could not help but admire his zest for good writers and good books, however, when a writer such Baaba Siila catch the zeitgeist of the provincial Gambian folks during the colonial era, he’s happy to cite that as a classic example of a native Gambian writing about issues that are uniquely Gambian. In another instance, when you review the work of Nana Grey Johnson, ‘a weekend in July’, one sees the infamous and unforgettable experience of the armed insurrection master minded by the late Kukoi Samba Sanyang in 1981. And outside the city, Ebou Dibba and Demba Ceesay try to capture life in rural Gambia, and the dream of two young boys who thought they could dump poverty into the dustbins of history once they get to the city. Perhaps, some themes are generally interconnected, but what I want to point is that, a youth in Senegal, Ghana or Mali may be equally tempted to pursue greener pasture in the city, however, different actions are bound to produce different reactions.

Following up on the footsteps of Peters, Sallah and company, Gomez is now trying to popularise Gambian literature through audiovisual system where the viewers or listeners will connect with the issues being highlighted. For example, the documentary did not hover around Dr Gomez’s literary exploits, instead it spread its wing to accommodate ordinary voices who have some ideas about the subject matter. Of course, doyens of Gambian literature abound in the country, when we look around we see Dr Cherno Omar Barry, permanent secretary, MoHERST, Ousainou Jagne at Timbooktoo and Abdou Wally Mbye of the Gambia National Library. Writing and publishing are interrelated, here the renowned Gambian publisher and English language specialist, Fodeh Baldeh is captured in the documentary.

Through the lens of drama and theatre arts, Janet Bajan Young also empties her mind on the way forward for Gambian literature. Sometimes one of the most innovative methods of understanding literature is through the lens of history. Hassoum Ceesay’s analysis of the subject matter gives the documentary shape and rythmic effect.

In conclusion, Dr Gomez’s posture means he’s authoriatative, his appeal is for all of us to read and read widely and develop our country. I was part of the crew that produced the video documentary entitled, ‘Emergence of Gambian Literature’.

Ebrima Baldeh


UTG student



Let Israel stop the racism against black people


Dear editor,

It is high time Israeli authorities guaranteed African asylum seekers access to fair asylum procedures. They are “a cancer in our body”, and “a threat to the social fabric of society … national security [and the] identity and existence [of the] Jewish and democratic state”. As “infiltrators”, they should be “encourage[d] … to leave” and “lock[ed] … up to make their lives miserable”.

Is this an off-the-record rant of some junior Israeli official?  Not quite. These are the words of Israeli Parliamentarian Miri Regev, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and of the current and former Israeli Interior Ministers Eli Yishai and Gideon Saar. And they are not talking about some threat posed by extremists sneaking into Israel to install a caliphate.

Instead, the target of these public diatribes – described by the UN refugee agency as “xenophobic statements made by … public officials who … stigmatise asylum seekers” – is about 51,000 Eritreans and Sudanese. These people fled widespread abuses in their home countries and sought protection in Israel before the Israeli authorities effectively sealed off the border with Egypt in late 2012.

The Israeli authorities know that they can’t deport African refugees to their home countries because of serious human rights concerns in both countries. Yet the authorities have done everything they can to make their lives so unbearable that they leave, despite great risk to their well-being. 

Can anyone tell me why is there one law for Israel and another for the rest of the world?


Yirikuntu Bojang



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