By: Foday Manneh
Right at the opening ceremony, the melodious voice of a young lady recited a verse from the holy Quran as the poetess Saffiatou Joof launched her maiden book.
The ceremony was held at the Sir Dawda Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo on Saturday, 5 November 2022.
Entitled “Under The Spell Of Poetry,” the book of poetry “depicts a picture of Gambian society in all its glory and contradictions.”
The book also highlights an opportunity for young people to celebrate public figures in their nation, according to a testimony heard at the launching.
“It would also serve as a voice for the voiceless because the poems in it are based on what we encounter in society,” one of the speakers declared.
Saffiatou told TAT in an exclusive interview that the book has been in high demand and on sale since the announcement of its official launch, which was well-attended.
Among the attendees was the Deputy Speaker of Gambia’s National Assembly, Hon. Seedy Njie, and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Badjie.
Veteran politician and ex-MP Sidia Jatta was the guest speaker at the event, and in his speech challenged writers to be in tune with nature and society.
Jatta commended Saffiatou for her commitment while emphasizing the need to write in Gambian languages and urged local writers to do so in promoting their culture and society.
It took the poetess two years to write the book, and Essa Bokar Sey, himself a Gambian writer, reviewed it at the ceremony.
Momodou Sabally, another Gambian author, in his statement to formally launch the book, called on the government to promote a culture of reading in the Gambia by facilitating a literacy campaign across the country.
The new author, Ms. Saffiatou Joof, attended the Deeper Life primary and Upper Basic school and Gambia Senior Secondary School, where she graduated as a scientific student.
She is currently studying Computer Science at the American International University West Africa, The Gambia.
Saffiatou Joof delivered the poetry reading at President Adama Barrow’s inauguration ceremony at the Independence Stadium in January 2022.
Ms. Joof is a columnist for the Alkamba Times, currently featuring one of her poems, “The Arrogant King in the Village.”