Online volunteers help translate key documents on democracy and human rights into West African languages
Benin: Online volunteers are supporting the Benin-based NGO, Fondation Joseph the Worker, in making documents that promote democracy and human rights available in the most widely spoken languages of West Africa. “Translation is crucial to making knowledge accessible at the grassroots level”, says Joseph Mevognon, the foundation’s Executive Director.
Jacques Komla Ametefe Dzago from Togo translated the Bamako Declaration into Ewe. Signed by member countries of the International Organization of La Francophonie on 3 November 2000, the declaration underlines their commitment to strengthening democracy, rule of law, human rights and free and transparent elections.
Jacques, who holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and in Transport and Logistics, is currently serving as a UN Volunteer with the United Nations Organization Stabilizing Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) where he delivers trainings on electoral management and human rights. He says he appreciated the chance to translate the declaration into his mother language, to make its goals and ideals known to the people in Togo.
With support from the International Organization of La Francophonie, and working in cooperation with the Director of the Promotion of National Languages from the Benin Ministry of Culture, Fondation Joseph the Worker launched a pilot phase of the project in which linguists translated the Bamako Declaration into Fon, the national language of Benin; Mòoré, one of the two official regional languages of Burkina Faso, Hausa, most widely spoken in Niger; and Baoulé, a language in Côte d’Ivoire.
During the second phase of the project, the foundation drew in support from online volunteers to translate the declaration into additional languages – Ewe for Togo, Bambara for Mali, Wolof for Senegal and Sango for the Central African Republic, with the long-term goal of making it available in all the regional languages of West Africa.
The translations will be published and launched in a series of events organized in each country, bringing together local public institutions, media, civil society organizations and ordinary citizens.
Fondation Joseph the Worker is already working with online volunteers on its next project, a manual on the prevention of torture. The manual renders in simple terms the content of human rights instruments such as the UN Convention against Torture and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. It is accompanied by an image box with illustrations drawn by online volunteers, to help reach audiences with lower literacy. The foundation is currently setting up teams of online volunteers to translate the manual into Fon, Mina, Bariba and Dendi.
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