On United Nations Mother Tongue Day 21st of February, we at Norwegian PEN launched Maktabaa. com

Maktabaa.com lists most African languages existing in every country, authors and their works. Maktaba means library in Kiswahili, Arabic and Urdu.

The site aims to show how local language use is faring in Africa among writers and readers. However, the site should attract debate on issues of freedom of expression in Afrika and in this way keep us in touch with developments in the world of human rights. Maktaba takes a historical perspective on each country, noting which books and persons have been banned today and in the past and why.

Many of us are certain that the IT revolution will eventually affect most languages in an unprecedented way in history. What will this mean for languages that have not been an economic force in their own land and in the world? Is language the first resource any continent has? Will some languages continue dying or will IT help save them?

It is important that we be proactive in seeing how modern technology will affect languages. Africa is often hailed as the home of all language and must not lag behind. Her artists must have the chance to ‘carve’ their own masks with the mother tongue each one is endowed with, if they so wish.

Based on some ideas Philo Ikonya, writer and human rights defender, shared with Norwegian PEN, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs supported the project which is continuing to grow.

We hope for a rich dialogue on African languages and to present books, blogs and other forms in which African people are working with their mother tongues. The site is still in its initial stages. It will later also include videos and interviews with writers, new works and discussions with linguistic experts.

Further information: Philo Ikonya – philo7626@gmail.com, + 47-905 04 723