Wednesday, March 22

ACALAN holds forum on development of language policy for Gambia

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By Yunus S Saliu

The African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), an African Union’s specialized language agency entrusted with the task of overseeing the implementation of the Language Plan of Action for Africa (LPAA), on Wednesday held a day-long workshop on the Development of a National Language for The Gambia within the context of the Language Plan of Action for Africa.

The daylong forum coordinated by the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) brought together different participants including the government of The Gambia – all ministries; the University of The Gambia and other institutions of higher learning; the President of the ACALAN-AU Assembly of Academicians of ACALAN; selected members of ACALAN’s organs and working structures; representatives of UNESCO, SIL international organizations; members of the ACALAN Secretariat, representative of Fulbe Africa was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre, Bijilo.

Presiding over the launch of the forum, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon Hamat NK Bah welcomed all the participants especially the ACALAN members to the Gambia.

Minister Bah urged everyone to notice and be on board, particularly when it comes to the issues of policy dealing with languages as serious mistakes were made in the past “and those mistakes we have the responsibility to correct them.”

In the Gambia today, he said some languages are already dying out and he gave examples of some of the languages saying “they are disappearing to some extent because in our daily behavior generally even at the level of school.”

He attributed this to the government leaving out some important elements in the language process, “one of the reasons we are working with the ACLAN since I come into the office is to bring back some of the almost forgotten languages and I’m now glad that the government is even starting to support and teach them in the schools.”

Minister Bah applauded the executive of ACALAN for a job well done while expressing delight that finally “we are starting what I know will be a long and interesting journey towards our country having a model policy for national languages.”

He said the document, is indeed, long overdue but better late than never to embark on the development of the policy to guide the promotion and valorization of the national languages “this shows the interest of our partner – ACLAN of the African Union in this direction.”

The Hon Minister thanked the African Academy of Languages for their support and for making the forum a reality while urging the media to keep the peace and stability of the country and desist from using languages in a way that can cause calamity.

Hon Seedia Jatta, Member of ACALAN’s Mandinka Language Commission; Prof Sammy Beban Chumbow, President of the Assembly of Academicians; and Dr. Lang Fafa Dampha, Executive Secretary, African Academy of Languages (ACALAN-AU) among others made remarks at the opening of the forum while Dr. Ojo Babajide Johnson, Senior Programme and Project Officer of ACALAN moderated the forum as Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of NCAC gave the welcoming remark.

However, the main objective of the workshop is to technically and financially support the government of the Gambia in its effort to develop a national language policy within the context of the Language Plan of Action for Africa.

Dr. Touray slams    Bakadaji Mandinka Circumcision

Dr. IsatouTouray, Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP has expressed disappointment over the failure of partners who recently conducted circumcision at Bakadaji Mandinka for their failure to honour a press release issued by her office.

A letter send to the Ministry of GenderChildren & Social Welfare and shared with The Voice, by the Gambia’s former vice President, stated that Mba Yassin Fatty ex-circumciser was among the 2013 batch of circumcisers who made a Public Declaration in the Central River Region-North of the Gambia and benefitted from an alternative employment opportunity in the form of a bakery with financial support through GAMCOTRAP.

She said t the Gambia promulgated a law prohibiting FGM in 2015 as an amendment to the Women Act 2010 protecting women and girl-children from FGM and other forms of harmful practices.

She noted that it is in this context that GAMCOTRAP is communicating to the ministry to bring the matter to their attention for the appropriate action and process to be undertaken to promote, protect and defend the rights of the victims of FGM in the CRR-North and the Gambia at large.

The letter continued: “As you may be aware, before the law was enacted all cases reported to the police were thrown out for lack of law or evidence. Since this law was passed in Parliament the implementation of the law was not effective thus allowing perpetrators to go scot-free. We are therefore informing the ministry responsible and all other relevant stakeholders that this is an issue of concern for anti-FGM activists and advocates.

“This case will test the ground for your ministry’s effective engagement to promote, protect and pursue justice for women and children’s rights in the Gambia. This is a gross violation of the sexual and reproductive health rights of the victims. We consider your Ministry as the Primary Duty Bearer to advance women’s rights in the Gambia.”