The advancement in science and technology has come with its downside as overwhelming majority of young people spend most of their time on the internet or watching television and are getting addicted to it on daily basis to the extent that they are losing the time to sit with their parents to learn from them some good cultural and traditional values.
The book, which is full of cultural lessons and moral values of the past, is aimed at educating and connecting the younger generation with the older one to the learn the good things of the past in order to aptly tackle the vicissitudes of the present and better prepare for the future.
In an exclusive interview, Mrs Cham said: “I was motivated to write this book because I observed that young people no longer have the vital connection with culture and tradition that my own generation enjoyed, as they (young people) spend most of their time browsing the internet or watching television.
The author, born in 1957 in a small village called Chamen in Lower Niumi District, said the wisdom availed to her generation in stories and proverbs has shaped their worldview and positioned them well for living in a very complex world.
“Nowadays young people in this generation do not know these stories and proverbs and I see this as a serious disconnection from their cultural roots,” said Mrs Cham, who serves as head teacher of Chamen Oakes Nursery School, in Chamen.
“As someone who was brought up in this way of life, I thought it wise to compile and publish these meaningful stories and proverbs for posterity, so that generations yet unborn can learn from them but not only for the sake of reading them, but also to learn from the moral and cultural lessons in each story and proverb.”
Messages contained in the book
|Mrs Matty Cham|
After reading each of the fifteen stories in the 56-page book, published by VINASHA Productions, the reader stands to gain a lot from its moral lessons.
Matty points out that the moral lessons gained from each story boil down to the way of life of Gambians - the culture, outlook, philosophy, etc of the people. Therefore, she said, all those who want to find their cultural roots are advised to read the book.
In the Forward of the book, Yamai Secka-Jack, the then Associate Director of Education - Peace Corps The Gambia, said the folktales in the book are both educating and entertaining.
“I am sure Gambians of all ages and foreigners wishing to learn more about The Gambia will enjoy reading them. Many of the stories remind me of stories my grandparents and uncles told me as a child and I am glad Mam Matty was able to document them.”
She expressed firm conviction that many people will benefit from the moral values highlighted in each story, as they are guidelines for everyday living.
More books in the offing
Mrs Matty also revealed that she is currently working on her autobiography. “The aim of this is to document my life so that future generations can draw inspiration from my struggles as a girl determined to be educated in The Gambia of the 1970s when facilities and resources were few and the girl child’s education was frowned upon.”
According to her, the autobiography will also serve as a benchmark to open the eyes of girls of this generation so they can realize that certain things in life, such as education, should not be taken for granted.
Matty said she is also in the process of publishing another book which comprises short stories and poems in Wollof.
“Perhaps this work can be used in the teaching of local languages in schools as the words used are simple and each short story or poem is followed by questions to test understanding,” she said, adding: “I was inspired to write this book because of my conviction that The Gambia, like other African countries, has rich local languages which offer a less stressful vehicle for learning.”
She thanks the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education for introducing teaching of local languages in Gambian schools, which will help students to learn faster and understand better what they learn.