The Nilerian Script Project Conducts its First Nilerian Script Seminar in Nairobi, Kenya

Posted: March 18, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, Philosophy

 From our own correspondent, Nairobi, Kenya

Aleu Majok, during the Nilerian script seminar in Nairobi, Kenya

Aleu Majok, during the Nilerian script seminar in Nairobi, Kenya

March 18, 2018 (SSB) — For the first time on the African continent, the Nilerian Project conducted on Thursday 8th March a seminar with South Sudanese Students in Nairobi, Kenya. The seminar was organized by South Sudanese Students’ Association in Kenya (SSSAK) with support from South Sudanese Students Association in Nairobi University (SSSANU) and Bahr el Ghazal Students’ Union in Kenya (BSU). On behalf of SSSAK, Matai Manuoi Mun, SSSAK Organizing Secretary, and Kuir Mayen Kuir, SSSAK Secretary for Information, took charge of the event organization and mobilization of students.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ayuel Taupiny Majak, SSSAK President, Mr. Gai Mayen Luk, SSSANU President and Ms Amati, BSU President, had expressed their support of the Nilerian initiative and blessed the seminar before leaving for a youth conference in Kampala, Uganda.

The seminar was convened to present to and discuss with South Sudanese students in Nairobi the idea of Nilerian script, a new writing system created for writing indigenous languages in the Nile Valley region and Africa at large. The script was innovated by Aleu Majok Aleu, a South Sudanese student of Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Malaysia who just returned abroad after completing his studies in Chemical Engineering. Presenting to a spirited and enthusiastic audience of South Sudanese students, Aleu expounded the motivation, background and significance of Nilerian script for native African languages.

Nilerian script

Nilerian script

On the significance, Mr. Aleu stated that the Nilerian script marks all of the phonemes (spoken unit sounds) in each language and maintains a one-to-one phoneme-letter correspondence across all languages. The former means that important aspects of native languages such as tones and vowel variety, which remain a problem or completely ignored in current Latin-based alphabets and orthographies of most native languages, would be fully represented and resolved while the latter ensures homogeneity of same phoneme representations and thus eases learning native languages. “For example, instead of “gn” and “ny” for the same sound as in Desalegn and Kenya, there will only be one uniform way to represent the same sounds in different languages”, he said.

On the background of the script, Mr. Aleu narrated that the script creation started in 2010 and had been undergoing development including several changes to some of the script characters and computerization of the script (development of a windows computer keyboard app) by Mawan Muortat Mayen who works with him as the project’s co-director and technical analyst. The Nilerian keyboard, which was first created in 2015, has been undergoing improvement over the last three years and is now awaiting public launch in Juba, South Sudan, having been finally updated and completed in February 2018.

Nilerian script

Aleu Majok, during the Nilerian script seminar in Nairobi, Kenya

Some of the questions and remarks given by the thrilled audience included the following.

Mr. Akec Chol, SSSAK Vice President, stressed the importance of building a strong civil society action through networking with NGOs and other relevant actors to champion the spread and adoption of Nilerian script.

Kuir Mayen Kuir of the University of Nairobi questioned how Nilerian script was going to create homogeneity in different languages and help develop them.

Daau Atem Daau, a student of the University of Nairobi, also queried how Nilerian script would harmonize alphabets of different languages and whether some communities have been consulted on adopting Nilerian script for their languages.

Bul Yuot of University of Nairobi, while in support of the general idea of Nileiran script being a solution proposed for native African languages in the Nile Valley and the entire continent, spoke on the need to narrow down the efforts and work on Nilerian script to only South Sudan so that the Project first gains reasonable success and foundation before regional growth and spread.

In his response to questions and remarks, Aleu Majok reiterated the home-baked nature of Nilerian script, built based on objects such as farm tools, sticks, axe, cow horns, et cetra which make it easy for kids to relate to Nilerian letters during their learning unlike with Latin-based letters. The one-to-one phoneme-letter correspondence is a marked difference from the existing alphabets and which will work a great deal in harmonizing languages with uniform phonologies such as with many languages of Nilotic (Acholi, Anywa, Bari, Collo, Luo, Jieng, Nuer, etc) and Bantu (Zande, Gbaya/Kresh, Belanda, etc) families.

“No communities have been consulted so far as there are no official language academies or community language/cultural organizations formed yet in South Sudan to work on language matters on behalf of communities. But individual consultations with language/cultural freelance enthusiasts and officials in the national and state governments have been and are still being made”, Aleu said.

He also said that the Nilerian Project Team believes in civil society action as the way forward to attain Nilerian adoption by different speech communities and to raise literacy in native languages based on the Nilerian script. In this approach, Aleu said that the Project Team has laid out a strategy and a roadmap for communities and university students to form Nilerian Clubs and establish centres for training of trainers, teaching, and promotion of Nilerian script.

Nilerian script

Aleu Majok, during the Nilerian script seminar in Nairobi, Kenya

Mr. Aleu said that a similar seminar and a public talk would be conducted in Juba and in one of these the Nilerian keyboard app would be officially launched on a date which would be announced soon. The seminar concluded with an interactive session where participants practiced writing and reading in Nilerian script. The seminar marked another milestone in the development of Nilerian Project.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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