"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"
A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend
Playing football is a sport that most
Cameroonians enjoy. This has always been the case with the Ouldémé and Vamé people of the Mayo Plata, Far North province.
Recently, a book about football was printed in their languages. According to Mendze Pierre, a Vamé man, who bought a copy of this book, "everybody wants the football book. People sit in groups and look at it together." The publishing of this book has helped many in these communities to understand
what they are doing and do it better. In fact, some folks borrowed Pierres book and he hasnt seen it since. Lets hope he will soon get his book back!
Last year, a 2000-word "Kejom (Babanki)-English Lexicon" with an "English-Kejom Index" was published. It had its beginning when some Kejom speakers attended a "Discover Your Language" course years ago. They collected words with the aim of developing a writing system for the language. Later, SIL short-term linguist Christine DeVisser added more words and did some tone analysis. More recently, Pius Akumbu (who now has a PhD in linguistics from the University of Yaounde 1) took the existing computer database and, with guidance from SIL consultant Dr. Robert Hedinger, checked all the words, added more words, wrote the introduction and finished preparing it for publication. It was printed with a combination of local and external funds.
Alphabet Books have been published or drafted for eight of the languages of the Ndop Cluster. These useful tools are in some ways the starting point of a literacy programme. They do two things. First, they are a publicity tool which stimulates interest in the language and encourages mother tongue
speakers to learn to read and write.
Secondly, they provide some initial reading
practice, with short sentences illustrating
each letter and accompanied by a picture,
which provides a strong clue to the content
of the text. Mother tongue speakers drawn from the community, whom SIL team members
tutored during workshops held for this purpose, wrote the alphabet books for these languages. The books are being enthusiastically received by language communities and are preparing the way for more
structured reading and writing books.
The Ngomba Reading and Writing manual aimed at teaching Ngomba literacy to Ngomba speakers who are already literate in French. Interest was low because people thought it expensive and complicated. A local pastor suggested turning the one volume into a series of six books with 4 lessons each. That
was the idea behind the new "You can learn
to read Ngomba!" transition manual series.
The new books are simpler in style with fun
exercises, more illustrations and interesting
stories by Ngomba authors (one short episode
per lesson). Comprehension questions after each episode challenge the learners to write in Ngomba as well as testing their reading.
Each volume in the new series is only one-fifth the price of the original single volume, making them more affordable, as well.