On September 7-14 of the year 2003, ECOWAS Parliament held a
joint meeting of its Committees on Education, Training, Youth,
Employment and Sports, and on Tourism, Culture, Art and Handicrafts.
This meeting was held in fulfilment of the Parliament’s commitment
to implement Paragraph 3 of a key recommendation adopted in
May 2003, concerning the promotion of the languages of the Community.
Holding the meeting in Bamako also contributed to reinforce
the policy of delocalisation of the activities of the Parliament,
and thereby, bring this Institution closer to the grassroots.
Moreover, he ECOWAS MPs wanted to take advantage of the experience
of the African Academy of Languages and other resource persons
(i) the cross border vehicular languages
within the ECOWAS member States;
(ii) the state of the art in the transcription
of the languages of the West African region;
(iii) the prospects of using cross border vehicular languages
to help promote and accelerate regional integration
On the eve of the Opening Session, the ECOWAS MPs and the experts
invited by the Parliament attended the inaugural ceremonies
of the Biennial Artistic and Cultural Festival, held under the
authority of the Head of State, His Excellency President Amadou
The Malian authorities, namely the Speaker of the National Assembly,
the Honourable Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA, and the Prime
Minister, His Excellency Mohamed Ahmed Ag Hamani,
granted each an audience to the Honourable MPs.
The inaugural ceremony of the Meeting was presided by the Speaker
of ECOWAS Parliament, Professor Ali Nouhoum DIALLO. Several
Officials of Mali, including the Speaker of the National Assembly,
the Minister in Charge of Malians Abroad and African Integration,
the Minister of Employment, the President of the African Academy
of Languages, the representatives of the Departments of Education,
Culture and Handicrafts, the Ambassador of Ghana in Mali whose
country is now presiding over the destiny of the Community,
the representatives of UNESCO and the Intergovernmental Agency
of the Francophony (AIF), also attended this ceremony.
In his welcoming speech, the Honourable Ibrahim Boubacar
KEITA, Speaker of the National Assembly of Mali, wished
the distinguished guests an agreeable stay in Mali. Then, the
Minister in charge of Integration invited the Parliamentarians
to support the efforts of Mali and the African Academy of Languages
in their struggle for the promotion and the valorisation of
national languages. The Minister assured the MPs of Mali’s full
commitment to ECOWAS Parliament. The Honourable Ali Nouhoum
DIALLO, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, insisted on the need
for more linguistic research to enable African languages to
fulfil their role of integration within ECOWAS.
following presentations were made by specialists invited on
- Presentation of
the African Academy of Languages, by Emmanuel SAGARA,
Secretary General of the Academy;
- Language relationships
of the West African populations, by Professor Akoha Albert of
the University of Abomey Calavi (Republic of Benin) and Mr Harouna
BARRY, independent researcher;
- Transcription of
the languages of the sub-region: state of the art, by Professor
Salam DIAKITE, Director of the Documentation Centre of the Academy;
- The linguistic situation
in West Africa: realities and prospects, by Professor Aje Samuel
- Strategies for the
promotion of national languages in West Africa: the case of
Mali, by Dr Ngolo COULIBALY, Director of the Abdoulaye Barry
Language Institute, and Mr Sadati NASSOUROU, independent researcher;
- Case study of the
NKo alphabet, by two members of the NKO cultural movement;
- The promotion of
culture and handicrafts in Mali: a calendar of cultural and
artistic events in Mali and in West Africa, by Mr Klessigué
A. SANOGO, representing the Ministry of Culture;
- Education and regional
integration, by Professor Boubacar Séga DIALLO, representing
the Ministry of National Education of Mali.
presentation was followed by questions from the MPS for more
explanations and clarifications. Several recommendations were
About the African Academy of Languages: The ECOWAS
MPS, after congratulating the Malian authorities for establishing
the African Academy of Languages, urged the African Union to
take the necessary steps to make this Panafrican project a reality.
About the crossborder languages: The MPs invited
the African Academy of Languages, through national language
Institutes and Departments, to come up with a comprehensive
listing of the languages of the West African region, with as
many details as possible. They insisted on the standardisation
of the different orthographies for a better introduction of
national languages in the different educational systems of ECOWAS
About the NKO alphabet: The MPS decided to make
a strong recommendation to the ECOWAS Parliament for a widespread
use of the NKO, which can be used to transcribe all our languages.
About the number of languages in the subregion: The
MPS found the number of
in West Africa a bit exaggerated and invited the African Academy
Languages to carry out further research on this matter; give
the different names
used to refer to a same language within ECOWAS.
OF ACALAN WEB SITE
The joint Meeting of ECOWAS Parliament Committees gave the African
Academy of Languages the opportunity to launch its web site
(www.acalan.org) which will hopefully contribute a lot in the
development of linguistic research in African. Two speeches
were delivered on this occasion.
First, Mr Adama SAMASSEKOU, former Minister of Basic Education
of Mali, President of the African Academy of Languages, and
also President of the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit
on Information Society (WSIS), thanked ACALAN’s partners in
general, and UNESCO in particular for their sustained assistance.
He also invited the MPs to commit themselves to the realisation
of this specialised panafrican Institution.
Then, Mr Edouard MATOKO, Head of the UNESCO Office in Mali,
acknowledged all the efforts made by the Malian Authorities
to promote national languages in all domains.