"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"
A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend
"Literacy is the best remedy." That is the theme of the 42nd Edition of the International Literacy Day 2008, which was celebrated on September 8th, as it’s done every year. The national celebration for Cameroon was held at Ebolowa, the provincial capital of the South Province, 150 km from Yaoundé. Presiding over the event was the Minister of Youth Affairs, H.E. Adoum Garoua. He put the emphasis on the ongoing effort of the Cameroon Government to eradicate adult literacy. The problem is still urgent, however, as 40% the Cameroonian population is still illiterate and 65% of these people are women. It is basing its plan for success on a network of cooperative relationships with NGOs organizations. He congratulated SIL, the Cameroon Association of Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL) and the National Association of Cameroonian Language Committees (NACALCO) for their constant support to programs promoting literacy in Cameroon.
Connecting to the theme of the event, SIL Cameroon General Director presented an oral summary of the work SIL has done in literacy through his representative, Keith Beavon, Acting Director of the Language Studies Section. This speech presented testimonials of how the mother tongue can be more effective in saving lives than other languages. Messages in the mother tongue about HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis bring conviction and awareness of the urgency and presence of the dangers. He spoke on the behalf of the partners working with the National Literacy Programme under the direct administration of the Ministry of Youth.
Martin Beyala managing the display presented SIL and its works. H.E. Adoum Garoua took leave of a crowd of nearly 3,000 souls present at the ceremonial ground and visited the SIL stand. The Minister expressed his thanks to SIL for the efforts done on the ground in many locations. He said that he has been personally contacted by groups of people living in town who are worried about being illiterate in their own mother tongues. They affirmed their identity with these communities and declared their desire to learn their languages, too. He spoke emphatically of the need that meetings commence between SIL and MINJEUN's specialized services in Yaounde. This may not be SIL's primary focus, but it nevertheless is a need that our Cameroonian counterparts are feeling keenly.
|International Literacy Day 2008 in Cameroon|
|Martin Beyala presenting a collection of SIL publications.|