The much anticipated Sulayman S. Nyang and Lamin O. Sanneh Institute for Social Research and Justice (NSI) has been launched. A ceremony marking this took place on Saturday, December 17, at the OIC/Kairaba Conference Center with approximately 130 people in attendance. Amongst them, include the Nyang and Sanneh family members, various dignitaries from business, academia, senior lawyers, former TRRC officials, and representatives of civil society organizations and other dignitaries.
Ms Fatou Bintou Sallah, Program Manager welcomed the audience and introduced the veteran media personality and Chairperson of the occasion Mrs. Jainaba Nyang Njie. Mrs Njie gave a succinct overview of the institute whose importance cannot be overemphasized. She buttressed that the Gambia and other countries in the sub-region face worrying signs of religious extremism, ethnic and political polarization, which if not studied and addressed through constructive dialogue could fester into community-based conflict. A few examples of these problems are—skirmishes in the Fonis; community tensions with Chinese overfishing in Gunjur; growing land disputes in the Kombos, sectarianism in Muslim communities, and Muslim/Christian religious tensions.
At this stage of Gambia’s journey, a research and dialogue platform, is needed to promote understanding, build social peace, justice, and promote social stability in support of The Gambia’s Transitional Justice Program. The Nyang-Sanneh Institute seeks to be that platform. The Institute is named after two distinguished and globally renowned scholars of Gambian origin, Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang, formerly of Howard University, and Dr. Lamin O. Sanneh, formerly of Yale University. The Nyang-Sanneh Institute for Social Research and Justice (NSI) is an independent not-for-profit and non-governmental entity.
In his statement at the launch, the Executive Director of the Institute Professor Abdoulaye Saine said the institute celebrates the lives of two great Gambian-Americans and their efforts at promoting world peace and justice. “At its core, the Nyang-Sanneh Institute is committed to the production and distribution of knowledge to instruct, mentor and inform policy in a bid to empower and improve lives”, he said. Novelist, Comrade Baaba Sillah, summarized magnificently the lives and careers of Professors Nyang and Sanneh, their scholarly contributions, and gallant efforts at promoting world peace through Interfaith Dialogue.
Musa O Sanneh, junior brother to Professor Sanneh spoke eloquently about his late brother and his love of books whilst Mr. Ebrima Manneh, retired civil servant and diplomat outlined Nyang’s genealogy and his days at Koranic school.
Pledges totaling D200,000 were made at the ceremony. Notwithstanding, the NSI hopes that more donations will be forthcoming in order to effectively carry out its mandate.
In the spirit of celebrating our own, the Board of Advisors and team members of NSI gave three recognition awards to three prominent Gambians; Baaba Sillah, Professor Abdoulaye Saine and Abdoulie M Sallah (audiologist) for their outstanding contributions to national development in their various spheres of influence.
Mr. Biran Faye, retired teacher/scholar and Pan-Africanist gave the vote of thanks and closing remarks.
The launching ceremony was punctuated by poems from young Gambian poets including Cherno Gaye who recited a riveting and fitting poem written for the occasion. Several other poets, including Mr. Alieu Jallow, a visually impaired high school teacher recited a poem that lamented the state of the country and its future, especially for the youth. Mariama Cham, a young and rising singer belted out new and traditional tunes accompanied by a Kora protégée to the utter delight of the audience. In addition to Ansu Susso entertaining the audience intermittently with Kora music.