Yahya Al-Matarr Jobe, principal programme officer at the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO (UNESCO-NATCOM), has called on Gambian writers to be good ambassadors of peace after successfully acquiring skills and knowledge from a week-long fiction writing workshop. “Having the world’s strongest weapon, the pen, you should struggle for peace and progress of society through your writings,” he said. Mr. Jobe made this call at the close of a five-day workshop on fiction writing organised by the Writers Association of The Gambia (WAG) yesterday at the Senegambia Beach Hotel in Kololi.
He continued to say that the writer’s role is determined not only by his or her place in the comity of writers and in literary circles but also by the degree of their involvement in society. “So write more to educate the citizenry,” he urged.
The NATCOM principal programme officer said UNESCO was pleased to fund the workshop by under its participatory programme 2010-2011 biennium through the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO, noting that it has cemented a significant
and meaningful collaboration between the NATCOM and the Writers Association of The Gambia.
According to him, UNESCO is providing such assistance in a bid to support the action of every national and regional actor in the book chain, thus promoting knowledge production at all levels. This workshop, he explained, was the first of its kind in The Gambia and was intended to provide the required skills in fiction writing by putting special focus on short stories and at the same time building the capacities of writers.
“This I believe has been achieved, given the enthusiasm of the participants and the zeal of both the resource persons and workshop coordinators,” he said. Mr. Jobe also highlighted the fact that UNESCO-NATCOM is proud to be associated with such an initiative because since the number of writers and poets in The Gambia is increasing, they need to encourage the young ones on board. Veering on the importance of literature, he averred that literature occupies a high platform and has invaluable functions in society.
According to him, books are embodiments of manifestation of departed minds, the living organs through which those who are dead yet speak to those who live. “Taking cue from such statement, you must resolve not to rest until you send your messages to the world, your writings could bring about positive changes, safe lives, instil hope, inspire, educate, encourage and mould people to be better citizenry,” Mr. Jobe concluded.
Other speakers at the occasion included the president of the Writers Association of The Gambia, Mr. Nana Grey-Johnson and Mr. Cherno Omar Barry of UNESCO-NATCOM who doubles as the general secretary of the Writers Association of The Gambia.
At the end of the workshop, certificates were awarded to the participants for successful completion of the programme.