By Yunus S Saliu
Marking the end of this year maiden Kunta Kinteh International Book Festival (KKIBF) organised by the Young Writers’ Association of The Gambia (YWAG), the Gambia Prize for Literature (GPL) award was presented to sixteen Gambian male and female authors at a well attended ceremony held at the Alliance Francaise Banjul along Kairaba Avenue.
The program organized by the Young Writers Association of The Gambia under the auspices of the Writers Association of The Gambia was funded by the French Institute of Senegal and Alliance Francaise Banjul.
The event according to the organiser, Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe, an award-winning Gambian writer, said the project was meant to reignite the love for Gambian literature by bringing together two generations of Gambian writers: “the generation of Nana Grey-Johnson and the younger generation.” This is with ultimate aim of creating market for Gambian books and to honour literary heridition among Gambian authors.
This year’s award with the theme ‘Reading Gambian Literature’ is the maiden edition of the award and it is in eight categories.
As announced, the winners of the YWAG Prize for Gambian Literature went to Dr Tijan M. Sallah and Ramatoulie Kinteh, posthumous; the Dr Tijan Sallah Prize for Gambian Poetry was won by Dr. Momodou Sallah and Dr. Juka Fatou Jabang; The Gabriel J. Roberts Prize for Gambian Drama went to Sir Charles Thomas and Janet Badjan Young; Ebou Dibba Prize for Gambian Fiction was awarded to Musa Bah and Sally Saidy Singhateh; The Baba Sillah Prize for Non-fiction was grabbed by Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow and Dr. Amina A. Sillah. More also, The Momodou Sabally Prize for Spoken Word Poetry was given to Omar Champion Cham and Jainaba Touray and the Dr. Ralphina D’ Almeida, Nee Philott Prize for Gambian History was taken by Hassoum Ceesay and Patience Sonko- Godwin, while the Nana Grey-Johnson Prize for Emerging Writers went to Sanusi Camara and Fatoumatta Bayo.
Also, supplementary awards were given to four Gambian youth – the Pan-Africanist, Ousman Touray received the Distinguished Youth Personality of The Year 2021-2022; Honourable Yankuba Darboe, Commissioner General of GRA awarded the Honor For Eminent Personality in National Development; Africell Gambia Limited bagged Award of Honor for Eminent Company in National Development and Ms Justine Guschlbauer, DG of Alliance Francaise, Banjul awarded the Honor for Eminent Personality of The Year 2022.
Honoring all the awardees, Honorable Nana Grey-Johnson donated D2000 to each of the awardees while Honorable Momodou Sabally donated an undisclosed amount to the Young Writers’ Association of The Gambia.
However, the GPL award was marked with a two-day book fair tagged the Kunta Kinteh International Book Festival (KKIBF) starting on the 14th through 15th October at the same venue while the official opening of the event was attended by different VIPs which included the French Ambassador to The Gambia, the Permanent Secretary at the MoBSE; Director General of the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC), family of Kunta Kinteh and the Kunta Kinteh Foundation; Presidents of the Gambia Press Union, Gambia Teachers Union; Music Union of The Gambia; Gambia Theatre Association, and the executive secretary of the National Sports Council among others.
Different speeches from different eloquent speakers while the Honorable Momodou Sabally the invited guest speakers presented an immaculate educative speech at the day two of the event prior giving of the awards.
Large numbers of renowned Gambian writers graced the occasion which was described first of its kind as the book festival was the first ever book exhibition in the country, while the most wanted trailblazer musician, Barhama Cham duet with Mariama Cham an upcoming young musician and instrumentalist to entertain the crowd.