CREOLESE LANGUAGE ACTIVISTS FORM ‘FOS KLAAS’ GROUP

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By Janice Imhoff, Coordinator, Fos Klaas

Very high energies were released when the University of Guyana (UG) held its course: Introduction to Writing in Guyanese Creole. This made history: one, because it was the first of its kind after more than a half century of UG’s existence; and two, it must be considered among the firsts of all other sincere attempts to build upon a post-emancipation creation.

Those energies led a group of participants to form Fos Klaas (First Class). This is not yet the definitive name; others, such as Creolese Language Activists, either as an extension or a replacement, are being considered. The group’s philosophy and its main objectives have not been finalised. Fos Klaas has 13 members: 9 females and 4 males with ages ranging from the 20s to 70s. Our three Creolese teachers – Charlene Wilkinson, Dhanaiswary Jaganauth and Dr. Tamir De Lisser – are ex officio members. We boast inclusivity! We reflect the diversity of our Guyanese heritage by way of race/ethnicity, geographic location, occupation and more. Our visually challenged participant used Braille to write Creolese!

So, what are some of Fos Klaas’s plans? For this quarter, we’re heading to Parika for our first data-collecting exercise. This was organised by one member, Robert Samaroo. Next is a trip to University of Guyana’s Berbice Campus, Tain. There we will meet and collaborate with other Creolese-speaking enthusiasts. Finally, in 2018, we’ll publish a booklet titled Why a Guyanese Writing System? and develop a working relationship with the Informal Working Group for Language Policy at UG.

These combined efforts are meant to agitate for a Guyana language policy, the pillars of which must be the acceptance of Creolese as an official language, and the introduction of multilingualism alongside English Language into our education, legal and social systems, throughout the Guyanese community.

Fos Klass is currently open only to members of the Introduction to Writing in Guyanese Creole course, but may open up in future. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates.

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