Fulfulde, Hausa and Mandenka Harmonization Works


In order to fulfil its mandate and after extensive work on “National policy: the role of Vehicular Cross-Border Languages and the place of lesser-used languages in Africa,” ACALAN selected forty-one Vehicular Cross-Border languages that would be the focus of its work in the next 12-15 years. Out of the forty-one Vehicular Cross-Border Languages, twelve were retained for the first phase, and a Commission to be established for each of the twelve languages. It is within this context that the Fulfulde, Hausa and Mandenkan Vehicular Cross-Border Language Commissions were established in December 2009.

These Vehicular Cross-Border Language Commissions are one of the working structures of ACALAN at grass-root level and, as such, their mandate include empowering the language, coordinating and establishing synergies with institutions dealing with the promotion of African languages and national structures of the countries where the languages concerned are spoken. The language commissions comprise of experts in the Vehicular-Cross Border Languages drawn mostly from the countries where the languages are spoken.

Between March and April 2010 ACALAN, with the support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), organized planning workshops for the three language commissions in West Africa, to identify priority areas and prepare plans that would guide their activities during their three-year mandate. These plans would be translated into projects to be implemented in collaboration with ACALAN’s partners, particularly technical support and the mobilization of funds for the implementation of the projects. One of the areas that have been identified by ACALAN, is the Harmonization and Standardization of the orthographic systems for Vehicular Cross-Border Languages. This would not only allow uniformity in the writing system of these languages, but it would also make learning materials available for mother tongue literacy campaigns. In its work plan for the biennium 2010-11, UNESCO BREDA also has on its agenda the Harmonization and Standardization of the orthographic systems for Vehicular Cross-Border Languages, and their promotion in multilingual literacy programmes.

BREDA thus decided to support ACALAN’s efforts to harmonize the writing systems of these languages in the ECOWAS zone. Beyond ECOWAS, and in the same vein, BREDA intends to work with ACALAN and other partners (SADC, ADEA, Microsoft, UIL, etc) in eastern and southern Africa, in the same domain.


The workshop aimed at reviewing the outcomes of earlier works on harmonization concerning these languages, identifying areas that still need to be addressed, and to recommending the way forward in terms of what needs to be done to address the lack of implementation of the decisions taken on earlier workshops.

The technical reports are available upon request.

Please contact Dr. Lang Fanfa Dampha, Senior Research and Programmes Officer at: [email protected]