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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Response to Patience Sonko Godwin

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We read with dismay the press release made by Patience Sonko Godwin in The Standard newspaper dated 5th May 2014.

Her arguments involving the Ceesay brothers on charges of plagiarism are baseless and lack merit. She just played with words void of logic and fact. It was driven by sentiments. Before the press release, we held her in high esteem but now the human calculus has changed. She has drawn a battle line with the wrong people. Let her find out who offended her and use the proper channel to fight her case out.

We want to inform her that first of all, we are graduates with more than a decade’s experience of teaching history in Gambian schools. For her information, we have conducted research from The Gambia to Guinea Bissau to Guinea to the UK and other parts of the world. Therefore, we are not arm-chair historians who plagiarise or cite without acknowledgement. 

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All those who went to university are aware of the crime associated with plagiarism. We all know the culture involved in academic writing. She called us infringers, but failed to bring any paragraph, sentence or word from our book Mastering Gambian History With Ease that has been lifted from her book. We challenge her to do that openly and as soon as possible. Can she even prove that her work is entirely original or the ‘facticity’ of her claims that the Ceesay brothers infringed her rights?

Her choice of words ‘charlatans’ exhibits frustration on one hand and on the other, it shows utter lack of respect for her colleagues in the teaching fraternity. Such words have no place in Gambian intellectual circles. It is very unethical but to respond, we urge her to show respect and use acceptable words to articulate her case. She cannot hide behind the media to ostracise people because the law can hold her responsible for such an act. If it is for verbal dexterity, we are open for a public debate to settle scores.

It is surprising that she has become a self-positioned expert in Gambian history because what she is insinuating is that she holds the monopoly of Gambian history. For her information, the University of The Gambia has produced many prolific historians who are visible and more felt than her. We have access to the works of most respected authors of Gambian history such as Donald Wright, JM Gray, Dr Florence Mahoney, Hassoum Ceesay et cetera. Their works are at the reference section of the national library. All of us owe these authors a great debt of gratitude. She knows this because she has acknowledged most of them.

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We want to bring to her notice that our book or books have been subjected to a review by a panel of experts from the curriculum directorate of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, and an approval letter was issued to us. If there was an issue like what she claimed, this respectable panel would have pointed it out to us.

Furthermore, she threatened to go to the law. The law is there for all Gambians and nobody is above the law including ourselves. But for her information, we are not intimidated because nobody can indict us without an offence been committed in the first place. 

To help her answer the question as to why her books are gradually taken out of circulation, first, she should write to the ministry and ask and second, find out from students why they buy other books. This country is no more a place where one author continues to dominate the market for long. This is largely because of the existence of a university that generates knowledge in virtually all sectors. The age of ‘sembocracy’ of knowledge has gone. We live in the era of democracy of knowledge. We are all in it together on equal footing and equal opportunity.

On a final note, we wish to reassure all students, authors, and readers of Gambian history that this is a grotesque and dishonest intellectual ploy [by Patience Sonko Godwin] that we will not succeed. We wish to reassure you all that our work is credible and we will continue to contribute our quota to knowledge production and national development.

We draw the curtain here to await any other accusation or otherwise.


Ibrahim & Mustapha Ceesay

Kinderdorf Bottrop Senior Secondary School




Weird words – experience of a spelling bee


Dear editor,


Last term I had the opportunity of attending the National Spelling Bee Competition as an observer. I had fun; some of the words were quite long and challenging. The environment was charged to the point that the drop of a pin would have caused distraction.

Some of the words I can remember are: Axiom, panacea, diaphanous, gregarious and buxom among a host of others. At the end of the competition, I continued the discussion with my friends at school. We set ourselves a task to find out the longest word in English. Antidisestablishmentarianism (a 28 letter word) was measured; I have also come across ‘Kugelschreiber’ which means a pen in German.

However, I was not the least expecting to find a word on the Internet that has 189,819 (one hundred and eight-nine thousand eight hundred and nineteen) letters. Yes, I mean 189,819! This is why I have decided to share my findings with others. I was not surprised that it is a scientific word. The word is Methionyithreonylglutaminylarginggyi—————–isoleucine. This is the chemical name for titin, the largest known protein. If printed it would fill Thirty-six (36) full pages and it takes about three hours to pronounce.

There are a series of other long words I came across on the Internet the closest of which to titin is another scientific word which has 1,950 (one thousand, nine hundred and fifty letters.

Another set of fascinating words are words that have the letter Q but are not followed by the letter U – burqa, qanqt, qigong and qwerty (a standard English keyboard layout). These modern words were incorporated in the English language about a few decades ago.

Nearly all words have vowels in them, and some such as facetious and tambourine – contain all the five. Words without a vowel usually have the letter Y in them, used as a vowel. Examples are: sky, spy, why, gypsy, lynx, myrrh, rhythm, and nymph.


Omadi Belford

West Africa International School

Form IX


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