By Yunus S Saliu
The Gambian erudite historian and author, Hassoum Ceesay, has used biography to interpret Gambia history through his published book titled Henry Anthony Madi: Biography Of A Forgotten Gambian Nationalist.
Henry Anthony Madi: Biography Of A Forgotten Gambian Nationalist was first published and printed in 2021 and on popular demand the second edition is now printed in January 2023.
The book is divided into four chapters with a conclusion, appendix: historical documents, and references as part of the content.
Hassoum Ceesay used the book to trace the life and times of Henry Anthony Madi who was born in 1912 in Kuntaur in The Gambia and his father was Sarkis Madi. “He grew up in Kuntaur and Bathurst (Banjul) and later served in the British Army during the war because The Gambia was a British colony. And he later become one of the great nationalist leaders who fought for independence,” he explained.
More so, he was a Gambian-Lebanese businessman, philanthropist, politician, and soldier, and “his political career started in 1947 when he was nominated to sit in the Legislative Council in 1951, elected as the first MP for Bakau and also elected in 1954 until he resigned in 1960 – for nine years he was the MP for Bakau.”
Also, the author, in the book, explained why Henry Madi despite his dual nationality, Gambian-Lebanese was able to win the respect and trust of the people of Bakau and the surrounding villages while he was re-elected as MP for 9 years. Henry Anthony Madi “attended the 1961 Constitutional talks in London and was also a financier of some of the major political parties in the country,” he added.
He was a financier because he was one of the wealthiest men in The Gambia, He helped his father to run the company called Sarkis Madi and Sons Limited which was importing almost everything to the country and also exporting groundnut because he has a big presence in all the major towns like Georgetown, Basse, Fatoto and was well known.
But in 1960, “he resigned from politics and concentrated in his father’s business and when the father died in 1962. He continued to run the business and his philanthropic work was very clear, he used to assist students with scholarships and poor people until he died suddenly in London in September 1965.
However, the author wrote the book first to tell Gambians that “our history is full of stories and political tolerance. I wrote this book, also, used Henry Anthony Madi as an example that the Gambia should be a place for all Gambians including Gambians of double nationality like Henry Anthony Madi who was half Gambian and half Lebanese but that didn’t make him forget his country or not to contribute and during his lifetime he was a freedom fighter for our independence; he was an economic nationalist and also a philanthropist.”
Therefore, “I hope this book will encourage Gambians to continue to be tolerance and also continue to encourage Gambians of double nationality to contribute to national development as Henry Anthony Madi did,” author Hassoum Ceesay added.
The book is currently on sale at the Timbooktoo Bookshop and it is a contribution to the interpretation of Gambia’s history using the biography as means of interpreting the Gambia’s history