About Beyond Niamey 

I set this blog up in January 2004, and first posted to it on the 15th of that month. It was initially just an experiment but evolved quickly to a platform to express some ideas and observations about language, technology, and development in Africa.

Posts to Beyond Niamey have been somewhat inconsistent, but hopefully at least some of them will have value for others working on and with African languages in Africa, and for people there generally whose development depends on communication, heritage, knowledge, and the sharing of knowledge.

About the author

Through Peace Corps, I learned Fulfulde and Pular as two deep expressions of a single language, and got to know many of the complexities of rural development in West Africa. Later. parallel to my graduate studies in Resource Development, I had the opportunity to work on a dictionary of the Fulfulde of central Mali (Maasinankoore) which combined lexical data from various sources and organized them by roots. This was also an initial experience in using an African language extensively on computers. Later study of Bambara also involved work on word processors.

Returning later to Mali at a time when there was excited talk in the development community about how computers and the internet were going to transform rural development in Africa, I began asking questions about how this would happen without the technology "speaking" the languages of rural people. I also noted that efforts to develop fonts for the writing systems of Malian national languages went along the same lines as the workarounds we used for the Fulfulde lexicon a decade before. It was out of discussions on such topics that came the inspiration for the Bisharat initiative.

Subsequent experience on Peace Corps staff in Niger, focused volunteer and program support in agriculture and rural development on the one hand, while maintaining ongoing discussions of technical language support on the other hand, helped enhance context. This blog was started at the end of that period.

Later work in Asia (with family in China; facilitating survey research in Afghanistan), and Africa (research in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda; as well as PanAfrican Localisation and related meetings in Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, and Mali) has afforded additional opportunities to consider other aspects of language in development, technology, education, and research.

                                                                                                        - Don Osborn, PhD