My research, “Lenrie Peters’ Location in Gambian Literature”, investigates the life and literary career/work of The Gambia’s most eminent surgeon, poet and novelist, Dr. Lenrie Leopold Wilfred Peters’ (R.I.P). A Cambridge trained surgeon, Peters is most noted for his poetry and literary career and is credited as the father of Gambian literature in English. Central to my research is Peters’ lamentations in exile as a student in Britain while his native Gambia was still a British colony and the hopeful pathology of homecoming as evident in some of his early poetic and literary renditions. Of Peters’ poetic disposition posits the Nigerian scholar, Professor Romanus N. Egudu, “of all African poets of English expression, he is the least concerned about his country and most concerned about the fate of the continent as a whole. He considers himself first an African, and secondly a Gambian.” Professor Egudu’s poignant observation gives added dimension to my research as I explore Lenrie Peters’ work as a Gambian, African and universal poet with an appeal that transcends the limited territoriality of his native Gambia, a mini-state in West Africa and the smallest on the African mainland.
Juxtaposed against the work of some of Peters’ contemporaries like Awoonor, Brutus, Clerk, Okara and the Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, my work mainly uses postcolonial literary theory as a device to examine, appreciate and then render an objective autopsy of his poetic and literary work. As such, my research adopts a nuanced and paradigmatic approach to African literature, draws from the pioneering works of postcolonial icons like, Aime Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah and W.E.B. DuBois as well as later scholars like Chinua Achebe, the Orientalist, Edward Wadie Said, Homi K. Bhabha, the subaltern theorist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Abdul R. JanMohamed, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.These figures are among a school of critical and sometimes controversial critics and theorists engaged in the formulation and examination of categories as complex and distant as decolonisation, dehumanization, racialization, colonial mimicry, ambivalence, hybridity and subalternity—provocative terminologies and or neologisms that arguably, enrich our appreciation of and respect for diverse and different cultures and their literatures.
Alongside my academic training and teaching, I have also worked as a professional journalist for the BBC as its Banjul correspondent, Radio Gambia and several Gambian newspapers. In June, 2006, I founded The Gambia Echo newspaper—an online journal based in Raleigh, NC, USA. The Gambia Echo has been accessed by over 8 million readers and cited by researchers and scholars interested in human rights and governance in Africa. As its Editor-in-Chief, I have been honoured to be a guest commentator on global media networks like Aljazeera TV, BBC TV, BBC Radio and RFI among others. My articles and editorials have been published and cited in numerous newspapers across the globe.