The association of Nko education has held its first symposium in Gambia for the first time since the African alphabet was invented in Guinea Conakry in 1949.
Sulayman Kanteh, a Guinean national invented the alphabet to write local languages while trading in colanut in Ivory Coast and bring it home to Guinea.
The development of the alphabet has since reached incredible strife as it is currently taught in many universities including Harvard and Cairo University.
“People must be ready to learn in their own languages,” said lawmaker Seedia Jatta, a Gambian linguist who did his masters thesis in Mandinka.
“We are not independent until we start speaking in our own languages. We cannot even have democracy if our leaders speak to the people in languages that majority of the population do not understand.”
Nko is very developed in African countries such as Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea. The alphabet started gaining ground in Gambia in the early 2000s.
Now over 400 students are enrolled to studying it with hundreds more already fluent in it. It is being taught at places in Sukuta, Tallinding, Busumbala and Tanji while other classes are being taught in WhatsApp.
“The symposium is meant to publicize our activities as an association that is propagating the education of Nko in Gambia,” said Karamo Jammeh, a professor teaching the alphabet.
Jammeh also took the time to explain the alphabet, its history and development since 1949.
The alphabet can be used to write any language and there are newspapers and blogs in Guinea, Mali and Ivory Coast that are written using the alphabet.