Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kusaal Project Update

I missed my siesta yesterday. After only 5 hours of sleep the night before, I sorely needed it! (At midnight, my body still thinks it’s only 8 p.m. Canada time, so it’s often the early morning hours before I feel tired enough to go to sleep.) But my siesta was worth missing because I got to see Hamadou Gnangré! Who is Hamadou, you ask, and why was I so glad to see him? Let me explain…

Hamadou is in fact the man who initiated the Kusaal Project. He is a Kusassi Christian and civil servant (working as a rural school principal) who first approached SIL for help in putting his language into writing and translating the Bible. Despite his busy schedule, he has, along with Pastor Emmanuel, been enthusiastically involved in virtually every major stage of the project so far: the initial work of comprehension testing, the set up and training of the Kusassi team that helped me gather linguistic data for analysis, and the preparatory work for the establishment of a Kusassi association to take charge of Kusaal language development.

Like Pastor Emmanuel, Hamadou is a true Burkinabè, an upright man (“Burkina Faso” means “the land of upright men” or “…men of integrity”). He has also become a good friend, which is the main reason I was so glad to see him after just getting back to Burkina. However, there was another reason too…

As I mentioned in my previous posting, our Director has scheduled a meeting with Kathy & I on Friday afternoon to discuss the future of the Kusaal Project. The following week, he has also scheduled a meeting for us with the director of the national Bible translation organization (ANTBA) to discuss the same topic. You see, the Kusaal Project is officially a joint project between SIL and ANTBA. However, since ANTBA did not have the funding or personnel to participate at the time the project began, it was agreed that Kathy & I would begin the work ourselves. But now ANTBA is preparing to participate, and with their experience in literacy, training, and translation work in other projects, they can be a valuable partner in the work.

However, one of the things that makes the Kusaal Project different from other projects in our planning is that we’ve been advocating for the Kusassi to be in charge of their own language development and Bible translation rather than SIL or ANTBA. After all, it’s their language and they should be making any and all decisions regarding its development and use, right? People like us from SIL and ANTBA would then provide any necessary help and training required to empower them to do this. This is somewhat different from many other projects in Burkina where SIL or ANTBA is normally in charge of the project, pays the salaries, and makes many of the decisions. Pastor Emmanuel and Hamadou are in full agreement with this approach to have the Kusassi in charge, and are well into the process of drafting the paperwork to form an official association. Therefore, I was anxious to get in touch with them in order to have their input at these upcoming meetings. Pastor Emmanuel was no problem. But I did not know how to get in touch with Hamadou on such short notice.

Today, at lunchtime, out of the blue, he came driving up to our gate… Coincidence? I think not :) God is at work!

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