Kwakum: No Longer “Oral-Only”

From of old no one has heard or perceived by ear no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Isaiah 64:4

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be there when English was first codified? When people first were able to read the language that they had spoken their whole life? Well…we can!

We are very pleased to announce that Kwakum has shed its label of an “oral-only” society. Today, this group of 10,000 people in Eastern Cameroon now have an official, recognized alphabet.

The alphabet meeting we had today went very well. Here are a couple high points:

  • Everything was conducted in Kwakum, including Kwakum writing on handouts and powerpoint presentations.
  • The Kwakum themselves conducted most of the meeting.
  • People were overall reasonable and wanted to work together.
  • The majority dialect was willing to accommodate the minority dialect in the writing system.
  • For Dave and I, we understood the Kwakum and also presented in a way that was understandable.
  • There were two people who read at the end of the meeting, one of which was a woman (which was to show that reading is not just for the men).
  • There were around 60 people in attendance, from multiple Kwakum villages, including around 8-10 village chiefs.
  • There was no rioting.
  • An official alphabet was accepted and now we are free to write literacy primers.
  • My tooth no longer hurts (I must have people praying for me….)

We have spent much of the last 6 years of our life working toward this day. Why is this such a big deal? Well, our goal is ultimately that there would be a thriving church among the Kwakum people, led by the Kwakum people, using the Word of God in their own language. But how can they have his Word, when no one has translated it? And how can we translate if they don’t have an alphabet? (I think you get the picture)

This is one MAJOR step towards our goal of Bible translation. And as many years have we have spent working to get here, we know we have many more ahead. Thank you for your faithful prayers that God used to radically impact today.

Waiting for the meeting to begin.
Dave catching people up on his work in discourse while in the States.
This is the end of our meeting and the PowerPoint says “We know how to read in Kwakum!”
Woman reading in Kwakum
Our son, Kaden, sums it up.
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Author: Stacey Hare

Stacey is a servant of Jesus Christ as well as a wife, mom, linguist, and Bible translator. Right now she is working creating literacy materials so the Kwakum people can learn to read and write in their language. She is also working on translating Old Testament stories into Kwakum with her husband and local Kwakum colleagues.

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