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Interview With Alasan Njie: A Gambian Rising Author Of The Guidance

By Yunus S Saliu

Alasan Njie AKA Malcolm X Jnr is one of the Gambian book authors his work is currently making waves among book readers in The Gambia.

Malcolm X Jnr’s book titled Guidance is an anthology of poems selling like hotcakes among schoolchildren and others across the country, since the launch of the book it has been printed three times and the author is on the verge of printing it for the fourth time.

He is currently a student of the School of Education Major in History and Minor in English Language at the University of The Gambia (UTG), on this interview, he spoke extensively about himself, his book, writing, and publication among others. Read the interview.

DTourisphere: Can you introduce yourself to us?

A Njie: I’m Alassan Njie popularly known as Malcolm X Jr born and raised in Chamen, Nianija in the Central River Region. I had my first education in my village, then later schooled at Armitage, Gambia College, and ‘am currently a student at the University of The Gambia. Also, I’m a passionate writer, and mentor to many people thus, I have a huge readership across the country and beyond, and I’m the president of Literary Success Club – The Gambia – a literary organization that helps support emerging writers in The Gambia.

DTourisphere: Recently you published a book titled Guidance, tell us about this book.

A Njie: Indeed, it was my debut book launch but a groundbreaking one for the matter. Many enthusiastic writers and attendees of the book launch said the launch of the book – GUIDANCE was unprecedented because of the massive attendance and sales made on that faithful day.
Certainly, GUIDANCE as the name implies stands to correct social and socio-political ills, hence it is a well-fitting societal instrument that teaches about respect, responsible, and success. The language content is simplified in a way that appeases readers to get themselves glued into it when they are reading it from the first line. No doubt, its readership perspective is universal. The intellectual wits and wisdom embedded in it are beneficial to both the young and the adults. It is a sophisticated
material to read!

DTourisphere: How far has this book gone among the readers?

A Njie: Sweet question, as highlighted briefly above, GUIDANCE has established an indelible stamp in the literary atmosphere of The Gambia. It is read across The Gambia and beyond. It is one of the most sought-after books in contemporary Gambian poetry and as the author of the book, I don’t know in memory the number of positive and inspiring feedback I have in my box from my readers who are still thirsty for more.

It might interest you to know that as the author of the book, I’m without a copy of it because all copies are sold. It has been massively printed three times and guess what? After every print, it would just whizz into the hands of the readers who are always in hot pursuit of having one. I am anticipating making the fourth print soon. I am proud that readers are happy and love my work. GUIDANCE is a classy book!

DTourisphere: The Gambia is over fifty years old, Have there been changes in the life of writers and readers in the country or do you think that authors in the Gambia can smile to the bank in each of their published books?

A Njie: As the saying goes, slowly but surely and hard work pays. Writers are putting in good efforts to ensure standards. However, in contemporary Gambian society, I will argue that writing is not an assuring career for a substantial livelihood. Nonetheless, there is hope in the future that there will be a paradigm shift in the approach of reading and writing by Gambians which would morally and financially lift the literary industry in The Gambia. I want to send a good shoutout to the emerging young writers and also advise them not to ever give up because of the difficult situation. There is hope!

However, smiling to the bank is not certain. Where there is a low readership attitude, there can’t be a good sale of books. Lol, if you want to hide your treasure from Gambians, put it in black and white. It would be there for a millennium, you will still find it the same way you left it. Smiling to the Bank requires the production of very well sophisticated and up-to-standard material backed by an effective, efficient, and rigorous campaign in light of advertising and promoting it. And in this case, as an experienced author in the industry, I can say a full smile is not guaranteed. It is not an easy task for a Gambian author to smile to the Bank!

DTourisphere: Having published your first book, what do you think are the most obstacles to Gambian authors or the challenges they are facing when it comes to writing and publishing their books?

A Njie: There are numerous challenges faced by writers in The Gambia. However, everything I might mention below could be attributed to the low financial and intellectual rewards dressed in the literary industry of The Gambia. To begin with, there are no globally recognized publishers in The Gambia who can bring public interest to a book and make good sales for an author. It is all about self-marketing for Gambian writers. Young writers find it very difficult to get their works well edited. This is due to the low interest in the field or high charges meted on them by book editors. The young writers are aware that the sale is often not going to be favorable, therefore, it sounds critical to them to pay more money in editing than they could earn after their publications. Also, the unbridged gap between senior writers and emerging writers has a role to play. In many cases, experienced authors are very difficult to access, hence there are always a lot of gaps that remain unfinished by the emerging writers. No one to correct, adjust, give a proper review, or critique their works. And these are important in promoting the work put in by an author such that the public is aware of his good work. I can stand to say now, a question of standard might not be the problem even though it might apply to a few writers.

Another challenge is that the relevant ministries are doing little or maybe no effort in promoting Gambian books. There is no support allocated to boost the capacity of writers or perhaps there is but to the knowledge of a few or none. Even accessing people from the ministries for a book launch is as difficult as walking on fire barefoot. Equally, they don’t purchase books for the schools from authors. The Education ministries and private individuals should step up to support the literary industry in The Gambia.

We need to promote Gambian books in Gambian schools for Gambian teachers and Gambian students.

In brief, the financial, moral, and intellectual support is what is inadequate!

DTourisphere: There are a series of write-ups that you are having in your folder, I believe. I ask again, is the Guidance your first book or you had ever printed pamphlets or tracks in the past?

A Njie: Yes, GUIDANCE is my first book published, however, there are a series of books in the pipeline and surely they will be launched one after another. I am heavily scolded by my readers who are hungry for more and claim that as long as my pen is concerned, I can never satisfy their thirst for reading. Therefore, let’s expect another groundbreaking book soon by Allah’s will.

DTourisphere: What type of book is the Guidance and how did you come about writing this book?

A Njie: GUIDANCE is an anthology of poems. I came to write this book after I have a thorough study of society and its interaction with social and socio-political life. This inspired me to attempt to correct what I see as social ills and promote the ethics of discipline and universal brotherhood. With that, I knew the best way to communicate my thoughts was to write the book I called GUIDANCE.

DTourisphere: Since the launch of your book, you have been getting a series of invitations from one place to another, especially by schools to make presentations and so on, how do you feel about this?

A Njie: It is a pride, a very emotional pride. It makes my heart melt and it makes me weep. It is very much emotional to see schoolchildren cherish my work, make the best use of it, practice, and demonstrate it offhand. It is beautiful when a student called to say thank you. I used your book in a contest and I emerged victorious. It pleases me so much that whenever I enter a school I become the Crescent of the Ramadan’s moon. Everybody wants to talk to me and everybody keeps pointing at me. I love it when I do my presentations but I love it more when I understand that the students as well as their teachers are inspired. I love it when they express their love and appreciation for me and I also love it during the questions and answers session. It is all life! A never-boring moment for me!

DTourisphere: So where do you see the life of Gambian authors in the next five years?

A Njie: I can strongly predict that it would be a life to be proud of. There is hope and where there is hope there is life. There is a will and where there is a will there is a way. The future is bright, very illustriously luminous.

DTourisphere: There are different careers for people to choose from, and as a young man you would have better like to be a journalist, doctor, an economist, and so on, why choose to be a writer or author in The Gambia when many people are not reading?

A Njie: To me, writing is more than a passion and more than a career. Surat Al -Alaq in the glorious Holy Quran reads; “Recite in the name of your Lord who created; created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the pen; taught man that which he knew not.” By this divine saying, writing is a divine gift that should be taught to mankind. Therefore, as seeking knowledge is well mentioned in one of the authentic Hadiths, it is important to share the knowledge that one has before he joins the ancestors. Writing that which is good and right is one of the greatest things someone can do in a lifetime. The more we write that which is good and right the more we bring in light between ourselves. We will live in a society that is free from ignorance. This among other things inspired me to choose writing. However, I am equally skilled in many other facets of life.

DTourisphere: You are very passionate about this book, what impact does it have in your life and work?

A Njie: Very much passionate, indeed. It has brought me moral and intellectual success, also I can say, slightly financial success because I have made a good sale, hence I am widely read. The launch of GUIDANCE has brought me an increased hunger for knowledge and an understanding of how I can go about searching for it. It has elevated my literary standard because of the attention it brought about. Producing a book of such caliber has put pressure on me hence people would not expect me to go below the standard line nor will I wish to be. Therefore, I ensure that I maintain standards and consistency.

DTourisphere: Is there anything to tell your fans reading your books?

A Njie: Yes, I am very much happy for them and I am being very much grateful to them all. Without them, my book would have been married by dust and termites. Without them, my name will not be cherished in the literary field. Without them, I was going to go home. Without them, there was not going to be pride for me. Without them, my knowledge was going to the dustbin. I am proud of them and I want them to know that there are many books on the way. Let them stay well for another launch soon.

DTourisphere: Where can your fans find you on social media?

A Njie: facebook.com/alagie.njie.777701, alassannjie@gmail.com whatsapp 3378453


Yunus S Saliu

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