Archives for category: Kabiye


George is three, and is proud of his new responsibility in the Pidassa household. Every evening at sunset, it’s his job, without ever being told, to catch six chickens and put them in the chicken coop. It’s easier for him to do it than anyone else because he’s closer to the ground. It’s great fun racing round the courtyard until all of them are caught. When jobs like that need doing, who needs toys?


Wikipedia 1000 articles
Celebrations! Today we’ve reached the target we set almost exactly three years ago. The Kabiye Wikipedia now has over 1000 articles in it. Recent additions include Stephen Spielberg, Tornado, Proton, Brain, Neptune, Gupta dynasty. Kabiye Wikipedia has also recently been approved for transfer from the Incubator to the real Wikipedia platform, but please would we translate 100 more interface messages first…

End of week 12, and we’re done at last. It’s been a long haul. Traveled down to Abidjan yesterday, and am lying low today in decompression mode.


The Kabiye Wikipedia now has over 900 articles. Recent additions include Augustus Caesar, NATO, free will, Johann Gutenberg, the Han dynasty and metallurgy. We’ve been having fun adding infoboxes, maps, photos, audio clips and links too.


The Kabiye Wikipedia now has 800 articles in it. Recent additions are the Ming Dynasty, Gabriel García Márquez, Gravity, Vienna, Mount Rushmore, the Renaissance…

Still piecing this culture together bit by bit after 21 years. Today I learned that as long as I have no beard it would be considered presumptuous for any of my employees to grow one.


The Kabiye Wikipedia now has more than 600 articles in it. Recent topics include explorers, inventors, law, physics, and capital cities.

It’s interesting to note how neighbours and friends respond to my mistakes when I speak Kabiye.
Some have got used to them and filter them out.
Another used to correct them but has long-since given up.
Others simply aren’t interested enough to be bothered.
Then there’s Mauril. No-one else in the village has his degree of language awareness. Often, in a group, he’ll sit beside me discretely correcting me. He’ll not only point out the mistake, but also explain why I made it. He’ll patiently model the correct version as many times as I need it. He’ll provide a clear, simple summary when I’ve lost the thread of the conversation.
Every language learner needs a Mauril.

The team developing the Kabiye Wikipedia has benefitted enormously from the recent publication of a huge dictionary of technical and scientific terms, the life’s work of Dr Karabou Potchoziou.

His dictionary is a goldmine. Dr Karabou has developed the specialist Kabiye vocabulary necessary for every imaginable branch of science: physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, anatomy, botany, zoology, mathematics, sociology, psychology, meteorology, engineering, medicine, archaeology, economics… And the arts get good coverage too with extensive technical vocabulary developed for music, art, architecture, theatre, dance and sport…

The dictionary is astonishingly comprehensive. The four Wikipedia translators have been working with it every day for the past three months and have yet to look up a scientific term that isn’t in it. Every day it saves them from the need for long discussions about how to translate a scientific term: the thinking has already been done for them, and done well.

This is African language development at its very best. Congratulations to Dr Karabou for this extraordinary initiative.

Wikipédia kabiyè 160523

The Kabiye Wikipedia now has over 400 articles in it, and we’ve also just uploaded translations of Wikipedia’s 500 most used messages, so soon the interface will be in Kabiye too. Congratulations to Emmanuel, Jonas, Dieudonné and Mauril for all their hard work over the past few months.

But what’s the point of having a Wikipedia in Kabiye? Here are three good reasons:

  1. Most Kabiye publications are about Kabiye culture – proverbs, folktales, accounts of ceremonies and rites of passages. That’s fine, but we wanted to show that Kabiye can be used as a window onto the wider world too. So in the Kabiye Wikipedia you’ll find articles on every imaginable subject: the Olympic games, the solar system, the Statue of Liberty, wind energy, the Great Barrier Reef, Charlie Chaplin…
  2. Learning how to read Kabiye mostly appeals to those who never went to school or who left school early. But there’s a growing educated, urban middle class who are computer-literate and are used to spending their leisure time in cyber cafés. We want to Kabiye literacy to attract them too, and Wikipedia is ideal for that.
  3. Most Kabiye books are published in print runs of just a few hundred, so they are relatively expensive to produce and don’t get wide distribution. Publishing on Wikipedia, on the other hand, is free, and once it’s published it’s available on any computer that has an internet connection worldwide. And, of course, you (or better still someone else) can edit it again after you’ve published.