Patience Sonko-Godwin is a renowned Gambian writer
who has produced much work in the history, culture
and traditions of the people of the Senegambia Region.
She received her first degree in history and English
at Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone,
West Africa and her master’s degree at the University
of California, Santa Barbara, California, U S A. She
taught history and English at St Helena Secondary
School, Freetown, Sierra Leone, and returned to her
native Gambia to teach mainly history at Nusrat Senior
Secondary School in Bundung and later at Hermann Gmeiner
Senior Secondary School, Bakoteh, both at the Greater
Banjul area. She taught for fourteen years in Nusrat
Senior Secondary School where she rose to the position
of Acting Vice-Principal.
Sonko-Godwin later joined the National Council for Arts and Culture as
the Principal Cultural Officer of the Research and Documentation
Division. She retired from this position and is now fully engaged in
research and writing on the history of the Senegambia Region. She also
delivers lectures to students, scholars, and various social groups at
home and abroad. A resource person of high calibre, she treats issues
of history, education, culture, tradition and religion with great
expertise, in various seminars and workshops at home. Her consultancy
work includes ‘Poverty Alleviation Programme’ Phase I, funded by TANGO
1992, ‘Feasibility Study on the Slave Route’ project in The Gambia,
funded by UNESCO (1999) , ‘Trade Gateway Project for The Gambia’,
funded by the World Bank and carried out by ECOLAS, a consultancy
company in Belgium.(1999), Islam Ak Jamano (2003), an exhibition on
Islam in The Gambia, funded by, the National Commission for UNESCO
(NATCOM) and National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and the
'Environment Impact Assessment- Sub projects
Construction/Reconstruction of Roads and Drains in the Kanifing
Municipality and the City of Banjul', (2004).
She is a member of international organisations such as Mande Studies
Association and Soroptimist International of Banjul (SIB), which was
chartered in 1987 by the Soroptimist of Great Britain and Ireland. She
is also the Vice President of the Gambia Library Information Service
Association (GAMLISA) and a board member of the Gambia Women's Finance
Association (GAWFA). In recognition of her help to the youth in her
community she was given the ‘Woman in the Community’ award in 1996, by
Soroptimist International of Banjul. This was even before she became a
member in 1998.
She was a founder member of the Independent Newspaper which was
established in 1999, but ceased to be part on this establishment only
after four months owing to desire to concentrate on her research and
writing. She has accumulated a wealth of information on the history,
culture and tradition of the people of the Senegambia Region.
Sonko-Godwin continues to help the youths in her community. She also
continues her research in and outside The Gambia and to produce works
on the history, culture and traditions of the peoples of the
Senegambia Region. Her books have the uniqueness of having the
combined history of the Republics of Senegal, The Gambia and to
a lesser extent of some other states in West Africa, for
example, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Sierra Leone and Europe, as
they impinged on the historical developments of the Senegambia
Region. As of today, Sunrise Publishers has successfully
produced five books but plans to include works of other Gambian
authors who find it difficult to publish their works
Sunrise Publishers was founded on 17 July, 1987 to help meet the
demand for books on the history, culture and traditions of the
peoples of the Senegambia Region because Mrs Patience
Sonko-Godwin, the author of the books, found it very difficult
to publish her books in The Gambia. This was because there were
no publishing houses in the country. The creation of this
company was timely as others have also taken up the publication
of works of Gambian and non Gambian authors.
Ethnic Groups of the Senegambia Region:
This book deals with deals with the major ethnic groups of
the Senegambia Region namely:- The Mandinka, Wolof, Fula,
Jola , Serahuli, Tukulor and Serere. The book tackles the
issues of origins, migration, settlements, state formation,
intra and inter state relationships. It also addresses the
European subjugation of these peoples.
Development of Local Industries in the Senegambia Region:
From the Pre-Colonial to the Present Colonial Period
European presence and trade in the Senegambia Region commenced
in the 1440s. The British and the French eventually colonised
the entire region and this in turned led to economic domination.
They brought in their manufactured goods. As a result, the
local manufacturing industry experienced serious declines
in their fortunes. Today products such as salt, leather, pottery
and soap are no longer produced locally as before and are
available only in small quantities.
The author has painstakingly researched, and written this
book, which deals with the technology (how the products were
made), historical, social, economic and cultural importance
of the commodities to the people of the Senegambia Region.
Thus she not only explains how products such as soap, salt,
cloth were produced but also their use and importance to the
people of the region.
Leaders of the Senegambia Region:
Reactions to European Infiltration
19th - 20th Century
This book deals with the background to European presence in
the Senegambia Region. It also examines European activities
during the era of the partitioning of the region and how the
rulers such as Musa Molloh, Foday Kabba Dumbuya, and Lat Jor
Jobe, resisted them. Colonial rule and its problems are also
examined. Students, scholars and researchers will find the
book helpful in understanding the policies and politics of
the region in the 19 th and 20th centuries.
Trade in the Senegambia Region:
From the 12th to the Early 20th Century
This book deals with the local and trans-continental trading
activities in the Senegambia Region. In this exposition, Patience
Sonko-Godwin depicts trade as an agent of change and transposition
of cultures from one state to another and from one continent
to another. She delves into aspects of the Trans-Atlantic
Slave Trade during which time millions of people from the
Senegambia Region (Senegal, The Gambia and the environs) were
forcefully transported to Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean.
Although they were subjected to dehumanising treatment in
captivity, they maintained much of their cultures and traditions
while adopting new ones.
Social and Political Structures in the Pre-Colonial Period:
Patience Sonko-Godwin discusses the social and political structures
of the major ethnic groups in the Senegambia Region and attempts
to present a synthetic approach to the study of their organisations
in the pre-colonial period.