"Your Language is the most precious element in life that still includes all major values of your ancestors. What does that mean for your children, and your grandchildren and their future?"
From April 14-21 SIL Cameroon held its 17th Branch Conference. This is a triennial event that brings the members of SIL Cameroon together from all over the country to celebrate progress and to think through progress for the future. This time there was even more reason for celebration than usual. SIL has worked in Cameroon since 1969. This means that SIL Cameroon has been serving the language communities of Cameroon for 40 years! During the conference, people who were here in those beginning years shared some of their experiences: travel from Bamenda to Yaoundé took about 12 hours in those days; at that time one member heard only after two weeks that his mother in law had died in England. But those were also the days that SIL Cameroon built relationships with the University of Yaoundé and the Ministry of Research. Those relationships have lasted until today.
At the conference both national and expatriate personnel sought in unity the best way forward for the organization. That unity was an encouragement to everyone present. That was remarkable, because some very difficult decisions had to be made. Some of the questions we asked ourselves were how to find ways to encourage more use of the research and translations produced by SIL Cameroon. We also looked at ways to involve more Cameroonians in the work and to position the organization a bit differently vis-à-vis our partners. Finally we addressed financial and personnel resources, seeking to build more capacity and balance. The General Director presented a plan that was looked at in detail, but in the end was adopted overwhelmingly.
The results of the conference will be presented to the Minister of Research and Innovation during the official celebration of 40 years presence of SIL in Cameroon. This will take place on April 24th.