Art Attack September 01, 2022 at 04:00 pm

Ensuring African languages do not go extinct through Kasahorow

Deborah Dzifa Makafui September 01, 2022 at 04:00 pm

September 01, 2022 at 04:00 pm | Art Attack

Kasahorow app (Google Play)

The use of indigenous African languages has been steadily declining, according to recent surveys, particularly among middle-class and upper-class African millennials and Generation Z. According to statistics, the next generation of academics, corporate executives, and politicians in nations like Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya will speak English as their first language, and maybe their only one. 

This possibility has disturbed many, who claim it represents a loss of culture and ethnic identity that must be prevented by all means. The adoption of updated curricula for schools, the promotion of indigenous languages in the media, and even the beginning of grassroots initiatives to persuade parents to speak their native tongues to their children are just a few of the recommendations that have been made.

This issue led to the GhanaThink Foundation launching Kasahorow in July 2005, which aims to be the go-to organization for language dictionaries and translation, improving the inclusiveness of languages around the world.

Kasahorow is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization with its headquarters in Ghana. The goal is to advance diversity via language.

Face2Face Africa spoke with a Kasahorow representative, William Mawunyo Agbo, who shed more light on the app and its achievements so far. 

Can you shed more light on the Kasahorow Foundation?

The Kasahorow Foundation is a Ghana-based non-governmental, not-for-profit organization. Kasahorow was first incubated by The GhanaThink Foundation in July 2005.

Our mission is to promote inclusion through languages. We look forward to the day when every person can expand their understanding of the world around them in their first language.

We aim to be the go-to organization for language dictionaries and translation, improving the inclusiveness of languages around the world through these resources.

We have made languages our primary focus by assigning Kasahorow Trustees to look after languages on each continent. Originally, our focus was only on African languages, however, we are expanding our focus to other continents. We currently have Trustees appointed to Africa, Asia, and Europe.

When was the app launched?

The current version of the app, which was a total makeover, was listed in the Google Play Store on February 25, 2020.

How does the Kasahorow app work?

The Kasahorow app is a keyboard app based on the AnySoftKeyboard project and includes keyboard layouts for English, Akan, Ga-Dangme, Gbe, Gikuyu, Hausa, Igbo, Wolof, and Yoruba. 

What is the driving force behind the Kasahorow app?

We provide the Kasahorow keyboard app as one of the tools we develop to improve the inclusiveness of languages around the world.

What is its user-friendliness?

The keyboard app has been updated to be very easy to use and the reviews we have received in the play store confirm this. 

Some reviews from Google Play Store

Emmanuel Nsiah: “Makes spellings in your own language easier.”

Jabulani Jabulani: “Exceptional”

Elvis Lartey: “Very good it’s easy to work with”

How many languages can it translate at the moment and how many does it intend to add in the future?

Currently, the app supports layout for 9 languages: English, Akan, Ga-Dangme, Gbe, Gikuyu, Hausa, Igbo, Wolof, and Yoruba

Are there any other initiatives from the Kasahorow Foundation apart from the app?

Kasahorow Foundation develops other resources like online dictionaries in a little over 100 languages, an online language magazine, and print bi-lingual dictionaries which are currently mainly sold on Amazon.com and its other language stores.

How has the platform been performing so far in terms of traffic, subscriptions, and what they forecast in the future?

The new version of the app has had 58,443 store listing visitors (total traffic) since it was listed in the Google Play Store, and 33,404 app installs.

What next should we expect from the Kasahorow Foundation?

We are currently working on making all the languages we are supporting sustainable while adding new languages. The number of languages the keyboard supports is far lower than the number of languages Kasahorow currently supports but hopefully, we will update that in the near future.

According to UNESCO data, half of the languages that are currently spoken will be extinct by the end of the 21st century if no steps are taken to preserve them, which is another alarming report but Kasahorow is working hard to change that narrative.

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