This list does not consider any spoken word poet or spoken word artist who does not publish a book to be seen or termed as an author or writer. However, poets who published books or were featured in anthology books can be considered writers. When there is a mention of Gambian literature there’s a possibility that you’ll assume that the themes are centered on culture and tradition. Perhaps there was a time when that was mostly all it was, but Gambian literature has since expanded quite impressively, especially in the past decade and a half. Gambian literature now draws from the realities of the country’s social processes — exploring the dynamism of social and cultural issues, from women’s rights and feminism to the post-Jammeh era and post-TRRC era. Some writings have even gone beyond the immediate borders of the cultural environments where they were written.
The crop of young Gambian writers that have since emerged has proven to be powerful representations of the Gambian experience. They tell stories that transcend easy attempts at classification, proving that Gambian literature is more than just about traditions, and culture. These contemporary writers are introspective urban dwellers telling the world about their experiences and fearlessly exploring such themes as racism, class, abuse, and violence as well as patriotism, beauty, and love.
While their names and styles may have changed over time, they remain the voices of their generations as well as the nation. Based in the Gambia and abroad, here is a list of the contemporary Gambian writers who are currently making their mark on the Gambian literary scene and you should definitely look out for them.
1. Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe (ML Sowe) — Novelist, Poet, Playwright, Blogger, and Scholar. Author of Don’t Judge The Book By The Cover, The Throne of The Ghost, The Memories of Reflection (2014), TWAWEZA, and AfriKa Not AfriCa. Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe is an award-winning Gambian author regarded as the youngest dominant figure in modern Gambian literature. He won the Best Young Gambian Writer of The Year in 2019 and the WAG Laureate for Children’s Literature 2019. He was awarded the Subscribers Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2021 by the Winning Writers in Texas, USA. He was listed among West Africa’s 4 Most Promising Young Writers in 2022 and was awarded the African Literature Award 2021 by the International Association of African Authors and Scholars (IAAAS), Atlanta, USA; and the Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), Accra, Ghana. He has worked with the African Union, ECOWAS, UN, the NCAC, among others. He is the Regional Coordinator- The Gambia for the International Association of African Authors and Scholars (IAAAS), Atlanta, USA.
2. Ebrima B. Sawaneh — Professional Writer, Blogger and Banker. Ebrima B Sawaneh is a chartered accountant, banker, philanthropist, and blogger. Author of Passed: 12 Proven Secrets to Pass Any Professional Exam at the First Sitting. Ebrima is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). He also holds BSc in Applied Accounting (Hons) Oxford Brookes University and MBA in Finance Heriot-Watt University. His other professional qualifications include Certified Accounting Technician, Certified Islamic Finance Executive (CIFE) and ISO27001 implementer. He learned most of these courses through self-studies. Ebrima also loves community services, outdoor activities and of course farming.
3. Saikou Camara- Motivational Speaker and Storyteller. Author of Africa Through A Mirror and Testimony of An African Immigrant — A Promise to My Father. Saikou is an international motivational speaker and a seasoned storyteller. As an African, storytelling is part of his culture and it plays an instrumental part in his life. He perceives storytelling as an art form that links us to our past and gives us foresight into the future. He has been invited to speak at the White House, the United Nation, De Montfort University (Leicester City, UK), Bowie State University, Virginia Tech, RightsCon (Brussels), Portland University, University of the Gambia, Omaha YP Summit, among others.
4. Alhassan Suso — Author, Educator and Motivational Speaker. Author of The Light of Darkness: The Story of the Griots’ Son. Alhassan Susso is an educator, author and speaker who have devoted his career to transforming the lives of young people facing difficulties. An immigrant from West Africa, Alhassan came to America as a poor teenager coping with a rare eye disease with gradual vision loss which he still copes with as a teacher. Living with this obstacle, Alhassan seeks to expand the worldview of young minds through the development of essential life skills necessary to succeed academically, socially, professionally and economically. Alhassan Suso was awarded as one of the top teachers in US. Suso is a part of a five-man group that won the 2020 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.
5. Aisha Jawara — Author and Banker. Author of The Oath Must Be Fulfilled As Promised, Kumba Am Ndey and Her Halfsister: An African Cinderella story, and The Last Custodians. Aisha Jawara is a Gambian author, a banker, a host, a radio presenter, choreographer and also an English Teacher.
6. Toufa Jallow- Gender and Women’s Rights Activist. Author of Toufah, The Woman Who Inspired an African #MeToo. Fatoumatta Jallow also known as Toufa Jallow, is a Canadian-based Gambian beauty queen and gender activist.
7. Adam Nyang — Novelist, Blogger and Author. Author of Agonies and Fortune (Novel). Adam Nyang is one of the most prominent female writers. She is a poet, playwright, novelist and author. She was shortlisted for the Changemaker Authors Cohort 2022.
8. Famara Fofana — Author and Journalist. Author of When my Village Was My Village and Recollections of An African Child. He is a journalist, communication specialist and one of Gambia’s best writers. Famara Fofana is graduate student of the University of The Gambia. After years of invaluable services with the state broadcaster-GRTS, Mr. Fofana now works for ChildFund-The Gambia. He has established himself as one of Gambia’s brightest writers. Within a span of two years, Famara has written two bestselling novels.
9. Marabi S. Hydara — Poet and Author. Author of Break of A New Dawn: An Anthology of Poems. Marabi S. Hydara is a poet and current works at the National Assembly of The Gambia.
10. Ismaila Saidybah — Author and Educator. Author of Sins of A Father. Ismaila Saidybah is a final year student at the University of the Gambia reading English language and Development Studies. He is an award-winning writer and an established author. He won the Covid-19 Short Story Competition organized by the NCAC. His first novel was launch in January 2020. He is the Publishing Secretary at the Writers Association of The Gambia (WAG). He is the Country Coordinator of Writers Space Africa — The Gambia.
11. Essa Bah — Author and Police Officer. Author of Dynamic Cultures and the African Child and Mission Accomblished. Essa Bah also known as “The Pen General” is a prolific writer working under the Gender and Child Protection Unit of The Gambia Police Force. He is the Assistant PRO at the Writers Association of The Gambia (WAG). Essa Bah recently won an international award on short stories. The competition was conducted by Flame Tree Publishing in United Kingdom.
12. Rohey Fofana — Novelist, Poet and Playwright. Author of Finding of A Lost Heart. Rohey P. Fofana received the Young Female Writers Award of Insignia. The award was in recognition of her dedication, passion, and hard work towards the advancement of Gambian literature. She is a Former President of the Young Writers Association of The Gambia (YWAG) and a graduate of the University of The Gambia (UTG) who majored in Political Science.
13. Saffiatou Joof — Poet, Author and Women’s Right Activist. Author of Under The Spell of Poetry. Saffiatou is unarguably one of the most prominent female poets and emerging writers in the Gambia. She is the current Vice President of the Young Writers Association of The Gambia (YWAG) and currently a Computer Science student at the American International University. She is also the Admin Manager of Bridge Construction and writer at The Alkamba Times.
14. Babucarr Jobe — Author and Human Rights Activist. Author of Rights and Beyond. Invest Gambia, in a mega-award ceremony held at Pencha Mi Hall in Senegambia on New Year’s eve with partners such as Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), the Ministry of Tourism and others, awarded Babucarr Bless Jobe the 2021 Writer of the Year award for the literary category. Babucarr Bless Jobe is a new entrant into the literary arena of the country. His name was entrenched into the Gambian literary scene with the launching of his book, Rights and Beyond.
15. Awa Badara Joof — Poet, Blogger and Author. Author of Flow and Excerpts from Chapters of The Book I have Not Yet Written. Awa Badara Joof is a Gambian blogger and writer. Intrigued by the many books on her father’s shelves that continue to grow, Awa began her adventures as the book thief he would never catch when she was ten; after every stolen spine, her wonder at the ability of words to both invoke and extinguish emotions burgeoned and at twelve, she began writing poetry- albeit solely for the eyes of her family and friends. In 2016, Awa began publishing poems and flash fiction about human sentiments and emotional trauma on her blog (www.withclosedeyesandpartedlips.weebly.com) which was heavily influenced by personal experiences. It wasn’t until 2018 that the then twenty-year old found courage and freedom in her truth and passion and decided to continue writing, developing the concept of a hybrid anthology which would dance around her experiences with bullying, abuse and insecurities as a young woman. She is managing her non-profit, AfreeCAN.
16. Alassan Njie — Poet and Educator. Author of Book: The Guidance (poetry collection). Alassan Njie is a teacher, youth leader, and current student at The University of The Gambia. He is an emerging writer and one of the Gambia’s finest poets.
17. Kebba S. Juwara — Poet and Author. Author of Spilled Beans ( poetry collection). Kebba S. Juwara well-known as the Panacea Poet is the current Secretary General of the Young Writers Association of the Gambia (YWAG). Kebba is a rising Gambian poet who was recently shortlisted for the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture 2022 in Nigeria.
18. Wandifa Samateh — Poet and Author. Author of Mother Gambia under the Microscope (poetry collection). Wandifa Samateh is a teacher and poet.
19. Ousman M. Njie — Poet and Motivational Speaker. Ousman was featured in an anthology book entitled The Long Road To Democracy edited by Prof. Pierre Gomez, current Minister of Higher Education and Research Science and Technology. Ousman is a founding member of the Young Writers Association of the Gambia and former Secretary-General.
20. Omar Champion Cham — Spoken Word Poet, Youth Leader and Debater. Omar Champion Cham was featured in an anthology book entitled Harvest of Gambian Lines published by Global Hands Publishing in the UK. Omar Champion is an award-winning poetry prodigy and unarguably the Gambia’s finest spoken word poet. He won the Stylist Poet of The Year 2022 and The Momodou Sabally Prize for Spoken Word Poetry awarded to him by the Young Writers Association of The Gambia. Omar is the current Speaker of the National Youth Parliament.
21. Raki Jalow- Author and TV Presenter. Author of Sallymata (Novel). Raki Jallow is a novelist and author. She works at Five TV, The Gambia.
22. Lamin B. Fatty — Author and Educator. Author of Rains of Sadness and My Journey Through The Dessert (Novels). Lamin B. Fatty is one of the Gambia’s finest novelists. He was shortlisted for the Ebedi Intertional Writers in Oyo State, Nigeria in 2021 and is currently teaching at Tanji Lower Basic School.
23. Hadime Jah — Author, Banker and Scholar. Author of The Fall of Baabili-Mansa: Yahya Jammeh: Africa Endangered by Dictatorships. Hadime Jah is Francophone writer and a novelist and author. He is a translator and owns a remittance bureau du change at Latrikunda.
24. Momodou Jarju — Poet, Journalist and Author. Author of Picking Up the Pieces (poetry collection). Momodu Jarju is an award-winning journalist and poet regarded as one of the Gambia’s finest writers. He has worked with all the notable newspapers in the Gambia and beyond.
25. Kawsu Sanneh — Author and Poet. Author of Tribal Grudges (poetry collection). Kawsu Sanneh is the current Copyright Officer at the Young Writers Association of The Gambia and a final law student at the University of The Gambia. He is one of the Gambia’s finest writers from the provinces. He debuted for his book in 2022 when he counted as one of the finest writers from the rural Gambia.
26. Alasana Jatta — Author and Banker. Author of The Adopted Child (novel). Alasana Jatta is one of the Gambia’s finest writers from the provinces. He debuted for his famous book in 2022 and joined the literary scene as a renowned writer.
27. Basiru Jallow — Author , Poet and Educator. Author ofThe Next Stop is Not The Destination (poetry collection). Bsiru Jallow debuted for his book in 2022 when he publsiehd with Ukiyoto Publishing in Canada and joined the literary scene. He teaches at Sukuta Upper Basic School.
28. Sanusi Camara — Author and Novelist. Author of Call Me Abou. Sanusi is the Male Recipient of the Nana Grey-Johnson Award for Emerging Writers for his book at recently concluded Gambia Prize for Literature 2022. She is the Publication and Publishing Officer at the Young Writers Association of The Gambia (YWAG).
29. Fatoumatta Bayo — Playwright and Author. Author of Sorrows of A Stepmother. Fatoumatta is the Female Recipient of the Nana Grey-Johnson Award for Emerging Writers for her book at recently concluded Gambia Prize for Literature 2022. She is the Gender and Women’s Officer at the Young Writers Association of The Gambia (YWAG).
30. Fatoumata Fofana — Author. Author of Sadjio (Novel). She traditionally published with Adelaide Books. Fatoumata creatively blends her unwavering passion for writing and she is considered one of the Gambia’s female writers.
31. Mariatou Bah — Novelist and Author. Author of A Mysterious Village. Mariatou Bah is an emerging writer and student.
32. Fatou Joof — Novelist and Author. Author of My Scar. She is the Assistant Secretary General Officer at the Young Writers Association of The Gambia (YWAG).
33. Mam Isatou Jobe and Lena Eunice Akua Jatta — Novelists and Child Prodigies. Authors of Love From Two Different Worlds. Mam-Isatou and Lena are emerging young writers regarded as the finest writers of their time and generation. They debuted for their first book in 2020 and continue breaking records in the annals of the country’s literary history.
34. Awa Divine Bojang — Author. Author of Arrows of Wisdom. Awa started writing in upper basic school and she is currently a student and emerging writer.
35. Haddijatou Jobe — Author. Author of Successful Dreams. Hawa started writing in upper basic school and she is currently a student and emerging writer.