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Notes from the presentation by Adama Samassekou, president of the African Academy of Languages / Académie Africaine des Langues, given on Sunday 25 February 2005.

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  1. This article is a stub - more content will be included in the next day. A number of people took notes and need to combine them.
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  3. Additional links re ACALAN are given at the end.


ACALAN founded as result of a meeting in 2001. Functions under the auspices of the African Union.

Mention of several other interAfrican agencies dealing with African languages.

4 "engagements"

ACALAN projects;


(2) African capacity in linguistics and computational linguistics

(3) Terminology project based in kiswahili center in Tanzania. Goal is to develop a policy to harmonise terminology across the continent.

(4) Pan African translation and interpretation center, based at headquarters of ACALAN in Mali

(5) Lexicography, based out of University of Botswana, Gaborone

(6) Large project, the African atlas of languages (we are still wondering how many languages there are - idea is to collect and collate all the information that exists on languages in Africa). In order to achieve a more cohesive approach. Headed by Professor at University of Malawi, but project manager is Marcel Diki-Kidiri. First meeting in March.

(7) African languages in cyberspace. Since we entered the knowledge society, we need to engage with it. It is the technology that needs to adapt to the languages. Project is led by Marcel Diki-Kidiri and Solomon Atnafu, and based out of Addis Ababa University. ECA has contributed to the promotion of ICT in Africa.

Other projects:
A project designed to set-up an international partnership seminar on Africanophonie (introducing the concept of African-language speaking people, rather than classifying Africans by ex-colonial languages). This seminar will be important because it will enable all the institutions working on African languages to combine their knowledge. We will start in the education sector.


Reinhard: Is ACALAN focusing on localisation or language in general - or does ACALAN consider the same as synonymous.

Samassekou: I presented localisation in the context of "institutionalising localistion" - that might have created this impression that the two are synonymous.

Lahbib (Royal Academy of Amazingh): I am impressed by this broad initiative coming out of Africa, addressing its own language issues and problems related to African languages. Regarding the last project you mention - the language in cyberspace - i would like to mention that we found at the Royal Institute that IT people are very quick at adapting to linguistic questions, and are quick to make decisions and start implementing. I think it is important to hire IT experts to be involved in these project, since they are able to move things forward quicker than linguists sometimes.

Adel: I would like to start with an Arabic proverb: Your friend is not the one that always agrees with you, but the one that tells you the truth. My concern is that you have set-up the group in a way that is too top heavy from a policy position. You start with politicians and the level of ministers. There seems to be a very wide gap between the politicians and the real projects that are happening on the ground. Where are the associations of end-users, the linguistics, the language departments in universities where is the local industry in this area?

Samassekou: We also have a proverb, that says "if your friend does not tell you the truth, you need to tell your enemy to do so." Say what you think and think what you say. There is no room for complacency. I would like to clarify that it is an inter-governmental organisation, so we do have a focus at a certain level. Our aim is to focus on the policy level and ensure that there will be a body that aims to implement policies - something that has not been realised in the past. ACALAN is a unique achievement - unique in the world - in which different countries have agreed to join a group that focuses on issues around the language of the continent. Unfortunately, we also have to go step-by-step and we can't rush the policy process. Also, while we work at the government level, we are absolutely open to the involvement of academics and non-governmental players. In fact many individuals who are not part of governments have been instrumental in setting up the Association.

Closing statement: "If you dream alone, it is still a dream, but when you dream together it's the beginning of reality."

Additional information about ACALAN

< 2/25 Day 2 Summary Notes | Agenda | 2/25 #2 Drafting a Vision >

Page last modified on 2015-09-19 09:18