The World Book and Copyright Day, also known as International Day of the Book, is marked annually on April 23. It was set aside by Unesco to promote reading, publishing and copyright.
Mr Almami Taal, president of Wag, in his speech paid a tribute to Kwame NKurumah, founding president of Ghana, the first country in black Africa to attain independence.
“Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a prolific and prodigious writer and an author of several books on African independence and unity,” he said. “He was a pan-African par excellence. And it is entirely appropriate for Wag to add its small voice to the jubilations and to find a way to contribute to a definition of the new African personality.”
Mr Taal went on to hail the work of late Chinua Achebe, describing the Nigerian as one of Africa’s finest writers. He also remembered the Columbian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away earlier this month – April 17.
Taal, himself a poet and lawyer, also paid a tribute to another African icon, Nelson Mandela. “The cell is an ideal place to learn, to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly,” he quoted Mandela as saying. “The cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct of life to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you.”
Also speaking at the event, the vice president of Wag, Mr Hassoum Ceesay, rendered an appreciation of the life and the works of Mr Marquez, a Nobel Prize recipient. Referring to the South American writer, the Gambian historian said: “He has written six novels, four short novels, six anthology of short stories, and eight non-fiction books. So he is an all-rounded writer of high caliber for which has won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
“One thing I have also discovered is he wrote in Spanish. Thanks to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Spanish language was able to produce one of its best writers.”
According to him, Gabriel in his writings “paints the picture of the powerful and the poor, the hopeless and hopeful, those who control power and those who have no control over power, those who are oppressed and the oppressors.
“Marquez was not a writer who sings the praises of dictators. He wrote against them and also condemned their excesses using his pen. He wrote in one language but his work has been translated into 47 languages.”
Mr Ceesay enjoined Gambian writers to emulate the Columbian writer.
The theme of this year’s celebrations was “Empowering Women Through Writing and Creativity.”
In this regard distinguished Gambian female writers and publishers shared with the audience their experiences as writers and publishers.
Dr Ya Harr Njai of Majaga publishing house, noted: “I did not grow up knowing that I am going to be a writer,” she said. “I hated literature at school. But I love reading. I read a lot. I had a rude awakening because when I got into science, I needed to write. If you do a fantastic scientific experiment you need to sell it to everyone so that they know what you are doing.”
“Knowing how to write stories and writing well – this is one key skill that if I was told in high school that I needed in life, I think I would have made more efforts in literature classes because in anything you do in life you need to write. I am now in publishing. But writing is not easy and writing is putting your heart out and letting the world know what you think.”
Other speakers were Sukai Mbye-Bojang, the president of Gambia Collecting and Copyright Society, sea pilot and published writer Rohey Samba-Jallow, Dr Pierre Gomez of UTG, a Jai Tida Sarr-Sabally, a writer, Yahya-al-Matarr Jobe of Unesco and Mr Madi Jobarteh of Tango. The event was punctuated with recitals of poems by young Gambian writers.
Dr Ya Harr Njie presented to Wag 25 copies of The Last Custodian, City Boy: Sanse bee Maata Geeja, and Samba ak Kumba, authored by Gambians and published by Majaga.
By Ousman Bojang]]>