By Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu*
The study of Gambian literature would not be complete without reference to Madame Patience Sonko-Godwin. The prolific writer is a living custodian of history and her works accompanied generations of students in and out of The Gambia in their respective academic journeys through junior and senior schools. Her books are equally inspiring to the academic and generic learners.
She wrote “Ethnic Groups of The Senegambia Region: A Brief History” published by Sunrise Publishers Limited. It profiles the Wolof, Mandinka, Fula, Serahule, Tukulor, Jola and Sere ethnic groups in the Senegambia basin and equally captures the impacts of European colonial adventures on their livelihoods.
In the “Social and Political Structures in the Pre-Colonial Period (Ethnic Groups of the Senegambia Region)”, Madame Sonko-Godwin examines the social stratifications of major ethnic group in Senegambia with an interesting insight into the customary relations between the nobility and professionals, artisan groups, the slaves, age-sets, kingship and officials in the king’s government.
To appreciate leadership and public policy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Sonko-Godwin wrote “Leaders of the Senegambia Region. Reactions to European Infiltration.” Some of the Senegambian leaders covered include Musa Mollo Bandeh (Baldeh), Lat Jor Ngone Latir Jobe, Momodou Lamin Drammeh, Alburi Njie, Foday Ebrima Kombo Sillah and Foday Kabba Dumbuya.
The Gambia is bastion of religious diversity and both Muslim and Christian leader played significant roles in sharing the destiny of the Senegambia region. It is therefore natural that Patience Sonko Godwin wrote “A Leading Pioneer in the Development of The Gambia, The Very Reverend John Colley Faye.” In 223 pages Ms Sonko-Godwin provides rare insights to the leadership qualities of Reverend J.C. Faye and his accommodating personality that inform Muslim-Christian tolerance in The Gambia.
The triangular slave trade devastated our society and this is elaborated in “Trade in the Senegambia Region, From the 12th to the Early 21st Century” by Patience Sonko-Godwin. She adequately documented the supply chain of the slave trade and the aftermaths of its abolition.
Africa is often seen as an unproductive land before the advent of European colonialism. This notion is dismissed and demystified in “The Development of Local Industries in the Senegambia Region, From the Pre-Colonial to the Colonial Period.” All these books are available at: sunrisegambia.com
Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, Lecturer II, University of The Gambia (UTG), School of Journalism and Digital Media (SJDM) and Principal Information Officer, Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI). May 2022.