The Writers Association of The Gambia (WAG) in collaboration with Pearson,
yesterday opened a five day workshop on fiction writing at the Senegambia Beach
Hotel. The workshop which is funded by The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO
will focus on fiction writing and short stories.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Yahya Al-Matar Jobe, the programme
officer, Gambia National Commission for UNESCO, who deputized Mrs. Sukai Bojang,
the secretary general of UNESCO NATCOM, said that the workshop is part of a
proposal submitted by the Writers Association to NATCOM for funding. He informed
the gathering that a collection of proverbs in three significant languages is
being funded by UNESCO NATCOM under the participation programme 2010-2011.
He highlighted that one of the mandates of UNESCO is to engage all stakeholders
in the promotion of education and cultural diversity. He said that is why UNESCO
celebrates the World Book and Copyright Day, World Day of Cultural Diversity for
Dialogue and Development.
He noted that the mission of a writer is to struggle for peace and improvement
of society, adding that this role is determined not only by the writer’s place
in literature but also by the degree of his involvement in the society’s
public life. He urged the WAG to be cognizant of its social responsibilities and
commitment to society because literature occupies a higher platform and has
invaluable functions in society.
Also speaking, Mr. Said Usuf, the Pearson representative in The Gambia said
that Pearson was very pleased to make this partnership with WAG, although they
have been in The Gambia for only three months, to provide the much needed
training for new and upcoming writers. He revealed that Pearson is the World’s
largest publishing house and has been in existence since 1844.
He told the gathering that last year, Pearson delivered textbooks for
Mathematics and English Language for grades 7, 8 and 9 to the Ministry of Basic
and Secondary Education.
He said that the objective of the partnership with WAG was the training of
writers without whom there will be no books. He said that with the advances in
technology, it is much easier to get published than it used to be so writers
should try to meet the highest standards so as get their works published as
publishers will not publish their works if the product is not marketable.
He said that the workshop will focus on key writing techniques to creative
writing as it will discuss important issues every writer must know. “It
should pretty well give you an overview of the whole spectrum of events from
picking your pen up to picking up your cheques,” he said, adding that Pearson
has provided the facilitator for the workshop, Sally Howes.
He said that Sally has a wealth of experience, having been in the business for
twenty years. She is also a publisher of the Pearson Junior African Writers
Series, sourcing and commissioning authors from all over Africa to write
material, both fiction and nonfiction, on topics such as HIV/AIDS, Health and
Environment and Science and Technology for primary and secondary level.
Mr. Gabriel J. Roberts, the doyen of Gambian writers expressed thanks to
Pearson for providing an expert of the caliber of Sally Howes to train young
writers to become writers on their own.
He expressed hope that the facilitator will liaise with Mr. Nana Gray-Johnson
who is himself a very experienced author. He said that target of the workshop is
to enhance the skills of the young writers in the area of novels and short
stories, adding that the workshop will also help writers re-examine their works
and improve their future writings. He said that writers should also delve more
into the drama genre as there is a lot to write about in the current age.
He expressed the hope that Gambian writers will enter the competition on short
stories being organized by the BBC every year as there has not been a Gambian
entrant for a very long time. He thanked the WAG and all its members for the
Mr. Nana Gray-Johnson, the president of the Writers Association of the Gambia
spoke about the importance of the training and the expected impact it will have
on the works of Gambian authors adding that he has entered the short stories
completion organized by the BBC. The workshop is being attended by many old and
young writers and students from various schools.