Me and my original Peace Corps host father, Amadu Diallo, in 2011

My name is Coleman Donaldson (or Adama Diallo/Jalo if you prefer) and I’m the founder of An ka taa. I’ve been teaching, researching and promoting Manding since 2009.

Why did I start An ka taa? Many people think that a large part of West Africa is made up of French and a bunch of so-called dialects. African languages, such as Manding, are not objects of history, nor are they endangered and in need of our assistance; they are the tools of commerce, relationships and knowledge for millions across the Continent everyday. At the same, they are vehicles of cultural practices and conceptions that have roots beyond colonial rule and post-Independence politics and development goals. Resources for learning and speaking the language can be hard to come by though.

I originally began learning Manding in 2009 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. Upon departing in 2011, I was certified as Advanced High in Jula during my final Language Proficiency Interview.

In 2011-2012 as a Fulbright scholar I attended l'Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris where I was a student of Manding linguistics and Bambara under Professor Valentin Vydrin.

Since 2012 I have been conducting linguistic, historical and qualitative research on speech and literacy practices in the Eastern Manding varieties of Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire. During my doctoral studies I benefitted from two academic-year Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for studying Maninka through the N'ko writing system and one summer 2013 FLAS for Maninka to attend the Université de Julius Nyerere in Kankan, Guinea. In 2016, I collaborated with a French company, Linguarena, to produce a French language textbook and app for learning Bambara.

I received my PhD in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 and I’m currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Hamburg. You can learn more about my research career and other projects at my website.