I’m through week one of two at the Outilingua workshop here in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa), and as I sit on the front porch of my little apartment at SIL Burkina, I’ve got some time to look back. First, lets start by defining some of those terms in that mouthful-of-a-sentence.
This is an invented french word meaning language tools (Outil:tool and lingua:linguistic). This is an initiative of SIL Africa area to train French-speaking Africans to do…to put it simply, the sorts of things I do every day. This includes setting up translation projects, teaching training courses, and day-to-day support for linguists and Bible translators. Doug (the organizer) has been running this workshop every year since 2007 and inviting French-speaking people from the region.
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Congo Brazzaville
- D.R. Congo
- Ivory Coast
I was invited as one of the instructors and writers of the training materials for the course, and led off with the Paratext training (in French, of course). We’ve already covered Fieldworks Language Explorer, Lexique Pro, Audacity, Teaching Couses, and Adapt It.
Ouagadougou means “where people get honor and respect” (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouagadougou)” and is a major cultural center of West Africa and the economic and political capital of Burkina Faso. It is the annual home of Fespaco film festival (which I missed by about 4 days) and numerous massive artisan’s markets (which I was able to visit yesterday). The landscape is mostly desert, but several man-made dams provide shallow lakes for fishing and swimming. The country has been having student revolts in recent months, but other than closed schools, life goes on.
As you can see from the map of my flights, my arrival was quite an adventure. We were off to the airport early, somewhere between 2 and 3 hours as recommended. Although they have 3 gates, they only used 1 of them. This meant that we had to wait until the passengers on the previous flight were gone before we could go through security. Raymond, a Cameroonian colleague was with me. After a long discussion with the guard about me having 2 laptops and how he wanted one of them for his village, i moved on. Soon I realized Raymond was no longer in line, but behind the security curtain. He had been stuck in an airport for 12 hours last year with no money for food, so this time he came prepared. Not surprisingly, the security team wouldn’t let him take his fried fish and plantains onto the plane…so they sent him to the booth to either eat it or trash it. 30 minutes late, we flew out of Yaoundé around 9:45am. We stopped in Lagos, Nigeria before continuing on to Lome, Togo. There, we stepped off the plane into Florida weather, and went to the “transit” area and got at the end of the line to get our next ticket. We’re still not sure why, but a guy came down the line calling our names and holding out tickets…and we got to skip the line. Victor and Bolobo (to other participants we’d met along the way) had to wait for the whole line. Once inside, Bolobo and Victor had to go make sure their baggage was rechecked for Ouaga, and we went into the gates. There were 4 gates…er..doors and wall-to-wall people. My ticket said gate 1, so we sat near gate one. The people at the gate couldn’t tell us when we would be called, just that each one they did call was not our flight. We got to 15 minutes before takeoff time, and miraculously Victor heard them “whisper” over the PA to go to gate 3 (of course). After 20 minutes of waiting in line…we were sardined into a bus heading the 100 yards to the plane. Niamey, Niger…and then to Ouaga. Upon arrival at Ouaga, everything was as it should be, except that someone had removed some of the meat from Victor’s checked bag…imagine!
As we go into week 2, please pray for the instructors, the guys (and girl) here, and for peace in this country.