Meet Kpénahi Traoré, Bambara language activist

Photo provided by Kpénahi Traoré.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Kpénahi Traoré (@kpenahiss) and what she plans to discuss during her week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

I'm Kpénahi TRAORÉ, I was born in the Ivory Coast, but I am from Burkina Faso. I'm the editor-in-chief of RFI mandenkan, the Bambara-language newsroom at Radio France Internationale (RFI). It is a great experience for me to work at this language, because before I thought it was not possible or very difficult to do journalism in Bambara.

Samogo is my mother tongue, even if I grew up with the language called Dioula in the Ivory Cost and in Burkina Faso. Malians call it Bambara, Guineans say Malinke, some people say Mandingo.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

About the status of the language on internet and offline, I do not know the full extent of it because I'm not an expert of Bambara, it's only my working language. It was a language of traders who traveled from country to country in West Africa a very long time ago. On the internet we can find some sites and blogs that offer to learn Bambara, like Apprendre le bambara; research institutes also have also online libraries BAMBARABIBLIO

In my newsroom, we have an online page where our audience can listen to news in Bambara RFI mandenkan – A ye RFI Mandenkan lamɛn ka ta ntɛnɛn fo juma nɛgɛkannyɛ 8 a nin a kanyɛ 12 Mandendugu waati la.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

During the week, I will focus on “doing journalism in an African language,” the difficulties to find the translation of words or expressions of the news; the need to make African languages stay alive with news-related words because of the world's evolution. I want to explain that doing journalism in African languages is also possible, it's the way to touch communities who don't understand French or English. It's the way for them to stay connected with the rest of the world through the news.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

My hopes or dreams for this language, is for it to continue to grow, to continue to be learned at school; hope that one day it will be possible to give speeches at the United Nations in African languages, especially in Bambara.

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