By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Writer’s Association of The Gambia, has unveils plans to join the rest of the world in commemorating World Book and Copyright Day, an annual event set aside to recognize the power of books to change our lives for the better and to support books and those who produce them.
As global symbols of social progress, books – learning and reading, have become targets for those who denigrate culture and education. The UNESCO said countries must redouble efforts to promote the book, the pen, the computer, along with all forms of reading and writing, in order to fight illiteracy and poverty, to build sustainable societies, to strengthen the foundations of peace.
In The Gambia, the WAG has taken the frontline in making this a priority. The association told journalists that all is set for commemorating the day at the Law Faculty of the University of The Gambia in Kanifing on Friday, 24 April.
Mr. Almami Fanding Taal, President of Writers’ Association of The Gambia (WAG), said the day is marked by the UNESCO general assembly to recognise the creators of intellectual and copyright products. He said the association, every year, tries to mark the day in a ceremony where they discuss the importance of books in our culture, adding that the writers’ association’s main objective is to promote literary culture in the Gambia to re-revive the reading culture where most of the people would be lovers of books. He expressed the hope to get a very experienced panel from educationists and cultural entrepreneurs to talk on this year’s theme which is “The future of the book as a cultural product”. He added that they will try as much as possible to discuss and explain the relevance and significance of books in our culture as well as reading and writing generally.
Also to be discussed at the program, he said, is the protection and recognition that has been given to writers, writing and reading.
“We are hoping with the support of UNESCO-NATCOM that we would be able to celebrate this event in a very big way considering also the fact that this year is the Golden Jubilee of the Gambia. We are in our small way marking and recognising the Gambia’s existence as a nation for the last 50 years. It is an event that will give the public more exposure to the ideas around the need to develop reading culture. They need to develop a book culture in the country because we hear from a lot of the educational establishments that reading and writing is one of the challenges that even senior secondary schools are having,” he noted.
He went on: “It is important on a day like this, to give importance to the writers, teachers, and everybody who has reason to deal with books because books are repository of knowledge, they are the custodians of our culture and values. We need to be reminded of their importance especially in an age where we have a lot of distractions in terms of technology; you have so many things either on screen or radio that have kept a lot of people from reading. It will also be important to reflect on the Gambian writers who have passed-on and try in some way give to revoke and revive their memories.”
Mr. Taal invites all and sundry, especially school going students and university students to join them on the day to benefit from the wisdom of the expertise of their panel and to hear some of the programmes and activities that the Writers’ Association of The Gambia has planned to commemorate the 50 years of nationhood.
The president concludes that the focus and celebration would be on the contribution and role of writers and books and that the association wants to see that writing does not only become a hobby but something that pays as an opportunity.