I would have said, without much risk of being mistaken, that I produced a "first" in the field of the "Mkaa" language written if, in this northern region of "ɓǎn bə ŋgɔ", Dr. Robert Hedinger of SIL, my Consultant, had not already surveyed the area, in order to identify the dialects. However, I am not far from this reality.
In his book, "The Manenguba Languages", doctoral thesis, Dr. Hedinger undeniably affirms that one or more languages exist in this linguistic area. I am pleased to specify, with the permission of his illustrious author, in order to remove any ambiguity, that the title of the thesis quoted above means rather: the languages around the Manéngouba massif, (because there are several), and not the language of Manengouba, because many were mistaken about it.
In his desire to do in the Moungo area that which he has done so well with our friends in the Southwest, Dr. Hedinger has published the "Short grammar of the mboó language", and "Read and write the mbo language". But response from all these noteworthy achievements were lacking in enthusiasm and especially follow-up by the speakers concerned, who continued to be satisfied with the trade languages used for the sake of religion and commerce. Something needed be done; for the momentum of development for Cameroonian languages, using the system of the harmonized Cameroonian alphabet, had been picking up speed for more than a fifty years, without the "ən bə ŋgɔ" of the Moungo.
The emergence of mkaaʼ at ANACLAC (the National Association of Cameroonian Language Committees) and in linguistic circles must be seen, not as a danger for those who hope to build with the abstract, but as an example to follow, to improve and to encourage. Because the need is there, ongoing and demanding: that of a written language, as witnessed by other Cameroonian communities.
The development of a language is a scientific problem that we must try to separate from politics, which has its very distinct role to play in a country.
There has been, and there will always be, "ɓǎn bə ŋgɔ"; whether Bakossi, Manehas, Bakaka, Banéka, Mbǒ, Balondo, Babong or Bakem.
The alphabet that I propose in this lexicon conforms to the General Alphabet of Cameroonian Languages adopted in Yaoundé on March 9, 1979 by the National Meeting for the Harmonization of Cameroonian Language Alphabets. The present lexicon includes 2,580 words in its "Mkaaʼ-French" version, and 3,720 words in "French-Mkaa" version. This provisional edition will remain open to all suggestions, in order to undergo at least one revision every year.
A language committee of which the publication of the codification work will begin next June, was created on March 12, 1994 in Yaoundé. I serve as humble coordinator. The committee meets every Saturday at Collège Privé Madeleine (Madeleine Private College), and is open to any speaker of "ŋgɔ" Moungo who would like to contribute to the codification of "Mkaaʼ".
A preliminary illustrated chart of the "Mkaaʼ" alphabet had already been put into circulation since June 1994. Also, recently a calendar of 24 "Minɛ́ʼěE" markets, around the Kupé Mountains, Manénguba and Nlonako including Bangém, has been published.
After the discovery of the various linguistic structures of "Mkaa" and the mastery of its writing system, the translation of the Bible, Sunday hymns, and leaflets on health and agriculture continues its merry way, with all the support and all the assistance of the Summer Institute of Linguistics for which I will always be thankful.
I count on all of you, wherever you are, for your support of this initiative.
Your humble servant,
Jean EWANE ETAME, Yaoundé, June 1995