IBBY-Yamada 2012: Finland

Workshops: oral stories to an illustrated book.

With support from IBBY Finland, Osiri Beach Education and Career Forum in Kenya held workshops to select texts and illustrations to produce an illustrated elementary reader in the Luo language, ABC mar Dholuo (Lou primer).

The Luo language is spoken by over four million people in East and Central Africa, but as yet there have not been materials written in Luo. Kenya has begun to introduce its mother tongues as a subject for young children in school, in the belief that competency in reading in the mother tongue increases confidence and leads to competency in other languages and subjects.

The project was led by Adrian Onyando. The writing workshop included fifteen participants, mainly teachers, but many members of the Osiri Beach community offered their suggestions on the language and literature. Many participants felt the book would be an excellent way of reviving the dying Luo language. The workshops for the illustrations, done by children of Osiri Beach, were led by Kaisa Torkki.

The resulting book has been published by Osiri Beach Education and Career Forum and is a colourful collection of drawings, letters and Luo words, sayings, riddles and tongue twisters. The book will be marketed on Luo radio stations and in magazines. The first ABC Mar Dholou is for pupils but also for general readership, even adult learners of Luo.