"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"

A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend



The key to the work of SIL Cameroon is training: a transfer of knowledge and skills. This equipping of Cameroonians to do all aspects of language development is carried out through classroom instruction and individualized mentoring. In this way they learn to develop their mother tongue while they also become trainers of others.

Training Statistics 2008

  Linquistics Literacy Translation Formation Scripture Use
Workshops 5 14 11 3 2
Languages 31 76 46 na 5
Participants 87 210 145 54 40

In total 36 workshops/courses / 159 languages / 558 participants

Look at the results!

About seven years ago I met Njeck Mathaus for the first time. I was the Director of Training back then and he came to our linguistic training courses. In fact, he was one of the first participants of our then new Foundations training programme, which aimed to help participants to develop the linguistic basis of their own language, helping them to develop an alphabet. He was a student at the University of Yaoundé 1 and was just getting involved in a volunteer programme with NACALCO. What a privilege to help him to achieve both his and NACALCO’s goals.

Since that time Mathaus has been an example of what happens when motivated local students receive the training and opportunity to be involved. He not only was able to develop an alphabet, a dictionary and a primer for the Bangolan language, he was able to engage the local community and to help them organize a language committee. But it did not stop with the Bangolan community! He continued with work on other languages and did significant grammatical research on Pinyin, Baba I and Babessi. He helped train numerous people from those communities. The result is that these four communities have started to take ownership of the future of their mother tongues. He did this as part of a larger team of SIL members who work on the Ndop plain (NW province) and seek to help about ten languages that are somewhat similar. Mathaus became a key member of that cluster team. Representatives of these ten language groups met recently to jointly plan for the future of these languages. And Mathaus was the one to facilitate these meetings.

Mathaus' story shows in practical terms what happens when Cameroonians get enthusiastic about language development. The result is that there is local capacity and people who have mastered the skills needed to make multi-lingualism a blessing instead of a curse. SIL is content to have contributed to that for the last 40 years and will continue to do so. I hope that this website will broaden your understanding of what makes SIL one of the world leaders in the development of minority languages world wide.

Nelis van den Berg
General Director SIL Cameroon

A link between my people and the world

Bébiyémé Nkomo Raymond and Kibassa Otoké are both from the Mbam-Inoubou Division. They are committed to bring development to their respective communities. They have faithfully attended various courses with SIL for some years. Thanks to this training, they have been able to discover the structures of their languages and they have learned the translation principles, which enable them to produce books in the mother tongue.

According to Raymond, the SIL training which he attended since 1998, has helped him to better understand what the mother tongue means to people. “Beyond the personal fulfilment that comes from the mastering of my language, I feel I am called to serve as a link between my people and the world.” Without this, he concludes, “this world will be closed to my people.”

A testimony like this, which is one of many, gives great satisfaction to the training department. It shows that it is making progress towards its goal of strengthening the languages of local communities within and outside of Cameroon.

Des mots me manquent

« SIL m'a aidé á decourvrir la structure de ma langue, á m'inpregner des principes de traduction á être á mesure d'aider par rapport á l'élaboration de certains ouvrages. Bref des mots me manquent pour exprimer le résultat que la formation reçue á la SIL a produit dans ma vie personnelle y compris ma communauté. »

BÉBIYÉMÉ NKOMO RAYMOND - Langue : Numaala – Mbam cluster