In accordance with the recommendations of the Synthesis Conference held in Addis Ababa in 2009, the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) organised operational and planning workshops to launch its first batch of Vehicular Cross-Border Language Commission (CVLCs). Our PI, Mohomodou Houssouba, attended the workshop from 26-29th March 2018 designed to establish cross-border vehicular language commissions for three West African languages spread from Senegal to Ghana and Algeria to Benin:
Ewe: Ghana, Benin, Togo
Songhay: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger
Soninke: Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal
The venue was CELHTO, a specialized AU institution headquartered in Niamey, Niger. CELHTO coordinates documentation, research and publication in oral literature and history. Each commission officially designated or elected two persons from different countries to steer their activities at the level of the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN). For Songhay, based on the “traditional” system, several names were proposed and lengthy discussions went on, but no vote in the end. Designated by consensus, Mohomodou was chosen to be the secretary.
Additionally, four non-statutory positions were created to spread the work (a strategy the ACALAN executives found worth imitating by other commissions: 1) in charge of language policy, Alain Ouedrago (INSS, Burkina Faso); 2) in charge of ICT, documentation and publication, Roukiéyath Sani Alaza (Songhay language program, Benin); 3) in charge of research, Lameen Souag (Northern Songhay specialist at CNRS, Paris; Algeria); 4) in charge of partnerships (Hamidou Seydou Hanafiou, IRSH-Niger; ELAN Francophonie, Dakar; Niger). This way all the five countries are represented one way or another. But this is a great step for cross-border collaboration on language development for these 3 languages and fifteen others for which CVLCs had been previously set up.