A new way of writing – a script for the Vai language – was invented in Liberia in the early 19th century. Mọmọlu Duwalu Bukẹlẹ later explained how, on the basis of a dream, he invented a full syllabic script – that is, each character represents one syllable. He may also have taken inspiration from an earlier pictographic system.
A British naval officer, Lieutenant Frederick Forbes, came across this script in 1849 and sent these two documents to the British Museum. The first, a two-sided document of which we show both sides, is written entirely in the script. The second gives the English equivalents of the characters.
- Article by:
- Dr Marion Wallace, Dr Janet Topp Fargion
West Africa is a place of great diversity – in language, in writing, in the hugely varied means of recording information and passing it on.