Prof Kah pays tribute to Gambian women writers


Professor Kah who spoke at a symposium marking the 7th Gambia Literature Day, said Gambian women have added their quota, both in writing and other personal ways, to help develop the industry.

Held at the Law Faculty Building in Kanifing, the event was held under the theme ‘Literature for Sustainable Development: Pioneering Women Playwrights’ and certificates were awarded to Janet Badjan-Young and late Hannah Augusta. 

Kah told the meeting: “For the touch of a woman, the first literature, the first poems, music, the first words of words of humanity, the sweet sounds of a mother that we all have been touched, indeed spiritual. I think I will be in order to say that the greatest literature persons and contributors to literature are women. The literature that come through them to us, even doesn’t start when we come to earth breathing, it comes when we kick in their wombs, where they quietly and privately sit to caress us and their stomach singing to us and communicating to us. If that is not literature, if that is not poetry, then what is literature and what is poetry?”


On his part, the president of the Gambia Writers Association, Mr Almami Taal, described language as the vehicle of thought and the custodian of knowledge and values of a people. 

He added: “If we do not develop our languages, who will? If we do not write our stories and folktales in African languages now, who will?”

Dawda Jawara Jr, son of late writer Hannah Augusta, commented: “I do not think I can really express adequately the immense pride I feel today in accepting on behalf of my late mother, some 34 years after she passed away, this award, recognising her work. 

“In the words of one of her grand children, ‘she was really cool, very smart’. I think this is a testament to that. She is a remarkable woman and one of the first genuine political activists. I think she would have been immensely pleased and aware of the fact that today, there is a general widening of opportunities for young Gambians particularly women and girls.”

Dr Omar Cherno Barry, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, said his passion for writing had enabled him to appreciate the work of Gambian women writers.

“If I see an event like this, where somebody as distinguished as aunty Janet Badjan-Young and the late Lady Augusta Jawara are being awarded, this is the place where I should be. Through drama and theatre, we learn to know who we really are and we learn also the right things to do. And the two distinguished ladies here today have done that amply and effectively,” he added.

Dr Pierre Gomez, senior lecturer, UTG School of Arts and Sciences, said: “The lesson to be drawn from the lives and struggles of these two champions is that before the banners were first raised in this country, Gambian writers had staged and published works that have fought for the rights, dignity and pride of the Gambian woman and girl-child.”