Monday, July 22, 2024

SPOTLIGHT: Raki Jallow: Amplifying women’s voices through writing

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By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh

Raki Jallow, a gifted storyteller, who has always been passionate about books since an early age, has over the years honed her craft and transformed herself into a remarkable author who uses her platform to amplify the voices of women through literature. With three published books under her belt, Raki has recently launched two new books: “Because I Am A Woman” and “A Bright Light Switched Off”. Both of these books explore themes and issues that are often overlooked when it comes to women’s experiences in society. Raki’s writing sheds light on these important topics and provides a platform for women’s voices to be heard and understood.

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Born in Njawara Village in the North Bank Region of The Gambia, to parents who were both teachers, Raki’s love affair with books began at an early stage in her life. She began writing short stories after being inspired by her love for books, eventually leading to the publication of her first book in 2007.

“What stimulated my appetite to write is my early interaction with books. I grew up with parents who were both teachers, and I started reading storybooks when I was still a child. That was how I grew up scribbling short stories which, I thought, were not lengthy enough to be in a book. I eventually wrote my first novel (SALLYMATA) when I finished high school in 2007, which was published in 2020 and launched in 2021,” Raki told The Fatu Network, recalling her threshold into the literary fray.

‘SALLYMATA ‘is the title of her maiden book, which was published a decade after writing the book. Being a daughter of teachers, Raki developed a huge interest in reading at a tender age, from which she began writing.

On the 16th of December, this year, Raki launched two other books, a novel and a play, capturing the struggles and challenges of women, using the cap of a women’s spokesperson through her writings.

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Her play, “A Bright Light Switched Off”, highlights the consequences of early marriage in society. The book was originally performed on stage by students at the Ebunjang Theatre before it was adapted into a published form.

The novel, “Because I am A Woman”, captures different perspectives of women’s stories and what they go through in their marriages and societies.

According to her, the motivation behind writing and publishing these two books is because women hardly talk about their stories because of social restrictions and stigma.

“What motivated me to write these books is the fact that there are certain issues women hardly talk about because of the fear of being stigmatized. I have the belief that writing those stories down makes their voices heard, and their problems may have possible solutions,” she explained.

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Writing in The Gambia comes with various challenges, demotivating many bright young writers. This comes from insufficient financial support and the low rate of a reading culture among Gambians. As a result of this, writers hardly make a fortune from their books.

According to Raki, her first novel was launched in 2021 but due to low sales, copies are still with her. This is a challenge that can discourage many young writers.

The young writer is not throwing her pen anytime soon, as she anticipates continuing writing and amplifying the voices and stories of women through writing.

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