December 16, 2013

Oromo: Successful Crowd-Funding Campaign To Save Language

Toltu Tufa, a resident of Noble Park, raises $50,000 through a campaign that aims to preserve the Oromo language with children’s books.

Below is an article published by the Herald Sun: 

A crowd-funding campaign launched from Noble Park to save an African language ended yesterday with more than $50,000 in the bank.

Called simply Afaan, which means 'language' in Oromo, the month-long campaign to raise $20,000 on pozible.com was the brainchild of Noble Park resident Toltu Tufa.

The 27-year-old, who works in clinical governance at the Royal Women's Hospital at Carlton, will use the money to print 12,000 children's books in the Oromo language, which was banned in parts of East Africa until 1991.

Ms Tufa said the penalty for speaking the language was 10 years in prison, which an Oromo refugee now living in Noble Park had served.

She said genocide cut the Oromo population in half to about 5 million in the late 1800s and for much of last century they faced imprisonment, rape and torture. They now number about 40 million and the language is the fourth most spoken in ­Africa.

Following a three-month tour of nine cities around the world, Ms Tufa launched the campaign a month ago.

It was picked up by Oromo communities in 15 cities including Cairo and ­Washington.

"I knew that there would be interest but I didn't anticipate 15 cities would create their own event," she said.

After leaving Africa because they couldn't speak their own language, Ms Tufa said the expatriate community now wanted to preserve it as part of their heritage.

"You can imagine what would happen if English was banned. What would you do? What would you say? What would you read? Where would you work?" she said.