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Gambian Author Reflects On Migration Syndrome Across The Mediterranean Sea

By Yunus S Saliu

As one of the writers invited with the opportunity to present a paper at the just concluded Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) held in collaboration with FEMWRITER – Uganda Women Writers Association and Kyambogo University, Kampala, an event organized to celebrate the life and works of Abdul Razak Gurnah for The Future African Literature, Ramatoulie Onikepo Othman, a Gambian writer and author used her paper to reflect on migration across the Mediterranean Sea and African Literature.

At the event held in November 2023 at the Kyambogo University, Kampala with thousands of participants drawn from across Africa, Ma’am Ramatoulie Onikepo Othman an author and writer from The Gambia who is also a member of the Writers Association of The Gambia research work expatiated on the theme – Migration and African Literature.

Presenting her paper before the audience, she emphasized the important opening points she said must be considered before dwelling on its topicality as the “keywords in the theme, migration, migrant, and African literature is essential. While a brief history, causes, impact and problems arising from immigration activities are to be dealt with.”

However, her paper explored literary works by African writers in the English Language on topics touching on undocumented or irregular migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and exiled writers.
“There are also fictional narratives that convey real-life situations in the global migration scene,” she said.
According to her, in the past few decades, literary works by African writers on migration have developed into plays, poetry, articles, and books while lots of this literature covers topics on the trends, patterns, and impact of migration on societies.

Topics affecting undocumented or irregular migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and exiled writers, are also part of the kinds of literature developed by African writers, she reminded the audience.
She disclosed that one of the most lingering subjects in recent times is the movements from the continent through the dangerous route of the Sahara Desert, across the Mediterranean, to host countries in Europe, Britain, Spain, and the Americas.

“The Gambia is one country that has been devastated by this dangerous venture. The Migrant Project (2023) reveals that intending migrants cramped in unseaworthy boats, are made to pay around 5,000 dollars on the pretext of a safe trip to their destinations,” she cited.

She continued that many of those who venture into such journeys lose their lives on the way, and the few who managed to reach their desired destinations, encountered various forms of human rights violations.

In conclusion her presentation, among other recommendations, she said relevant authorities should sample the opinion of two leading international agencies dealing directly with governments and the migrant populace of the continent; namely the International Organization or Migration (IOM), and the Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM).

Meanwhile, Ma’am Othman thanked the Writers Association of The Gambia (WAG) and National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) for their support and guidance and also “I will say a big thank you to the Gambia International Airline (GIA) for the sponsorship of my air ticket and among others. She noted that GIA and GCAA are strong supporters of artists’ movements abroad.


Yunus S Saliu

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