Archive of Languages and Oral Resources of Africa

Africa's linguistic and cultural diversity in a snapshot

Africa is host to one third of the world’s language heritage. The number of languages spoken in Africa is estimated at about 2000. This makes Africa the most linguistically diverse continent in the world.

Languages of Africa are classified into four genetic units also called phyla. Even though this early classification by Joseph Greenberg has been subject to much debates since its publication in 1963, this seminal work has remained the most widely admitted and cited among linguists. The four language units are: Afroasiatic, Khoisan, Niger-Congo, and Nilo-Saharan.

However, this linguistic and cultural diversity is endangered due to a combination of factors, some of which are: imposition of colonial languages as official languages in most African States; rural exodus which leads to the abandonment of traditional lifestyle while increasing language and cultural shift to the dominant groups’ way of life; inadequate language policies which favor the neglect of indigenous languages in favor of languages of mass communication; and many others.

If not properly addressed in a near future, language endangerment in Africa my result in dramatic and ubiquitous loss of Africa’s cultural heritage. Such irredeemable loss would unavoidably bear a negative impact on the social life of the people for many reasons:

  • language is the main memory-stock keeper and paramount vehicle to knowledge; language loss means sinking of a millennial cognitive heritage;
  • language is a key marker of identity and utmost existential label for cultural affirmation;
  • language is a fuel to social dynamism and human evolution

Our Missions

ALORA is a project which falls within the missions assigned to CERDOTOLA by the Member States

CERDOTOLA is committed to document and safeguard aspects of Africa's languages and cultural heritage. This has been traditionally achieved through production of written texts, and casually through audio recording on tapes as provided by the state of the art technology. The bulk of textual, graphical and audio resources documented as far back as the 70s and early 80s has not been subject to far reaching dissemination. Other cultural and scientific objects such as field notes, tapes, manuscripts, wordlists, questionnaires, photos and various archival documents are usually left to perish in library shelves or in the hands of researchers and individuals. The main goal of the ALORA Project is to safeguard these treasuries from irredeemable loss, and to to disseminate them via the world wide web.

In addition, ALORA is a virtual infrastructure for hosting versatile digital resources stemming from documentation of African languages and cultural heritage. Inasmuch as African languages are facing the threat of death in a more or less near future, keeping leaving records of their daily usage is a recipe for ensuring their future revival.

Our Monthly Multimedia Selection

Côte d'Ivoire: "Flûte Ayo" Gabon: "Poésie épique" Ghana Rwanda: "Poésie pastorale" Cameroon: Bamun Heritage Music 01
Gabon: "Chante-Fable ekang" Burundi: "Berceuse" Congo: "Chante-Fable" DRC: "Chante-Fable" Cameroon: Bamun Heritage Music 02
Ghana: Gurene dance Cameroon: Aladji's Forge (Foumban) Cameroon: Viper preparation (Bagyeli) Cameroon: Healing (Lower Fungong)
Cameroon: Dancing on the palm tree (Bagyeli) Cameroon: Monkey trap (Bagyeli) ≠Akhoe Hai//om (Namibia): Folkstory
Cameroon (Bagyeli): Honey collection Cameroon (Bagyeli): Building a hut

For more resources, browse our online catalog


ALORA is hosted by CERDOTOLA and can be accessed through the institution's web site as well.

CERDOTOLA is an inter-State organization which is comitted to documenting, preserving and promoting the rich, yet endangered African cultural and language heritage. This is done through funding of scientific research and publication, organization of scientific and cultural meetings throughout its member States, training, language and cultural documentation, and archiving

ALORA is therefore the (digital) archival interface of CERDOTOLA. The archive was set up in February of 2014 as a regional archive with the technical support of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, within the framework of the INNET project



  • Archive Manager: Dr Emmanuel NGUE UM
  • Emmanuel NGUE UM holds a PhD in Linguists, which he graduated with from the University of Provence (France) in 2010. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cameroonian Languages and Cultures of the Higher Teacher's Training College of the University of Yaoundé I.

    NGUE UM has been actively involved in Language Documentation in Cameroon for the past four years, both as field reasercher and trainer. Between April and May of 2014, he underwent a Language Archiving internship at MPI-Nijmegen and in the Linguistics Institute of the University of Cologne

  • Archive Curator: Dr Emmanuel-Moselly MAKASSO
  • Makasso graduated with a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Procence in 2008. He has since been awarded two post-doctoral fellowships which have allowed him to spend one year research stay in the University of Paris 3 Sorbone, and another two years stay at the ZAS in Berlin.

    Makasso is currenty the Head of the Department of Linguistics at the National Center for Education in the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation of the Republic of Cameroon.

  • What?

    ALORA welcomes digital language and oral resources in the form of video, audio, annotation files, metadata files, image, map, text files, provided they are delivered in a format which complies with our archivable standards

    Read the LAMUS online Manual or download the user guide and/or the full manual for more information

  • Who?

    As a general rule, everyone who wishes to archive their data with ALORA is welcome. this includes: fieldwork researchers in the humanities, institutions such as universities, laboratories, libraries, museums, research centers, languages committees, language and cultural groups/associations, and invdividuals

    Resources may be deposited directly by the resource owner, or handed down to ALORA's staff (contact e-mail

  • Why?

    Archiving your data will:

    • ensure its long time prevervation
    • enable its wordlwide dissemination
    • enable data interoperability

    In addition, ALORA is meant to be an online plattform for educational material and resources

    Archiving your data with ALORA is free of charge

  • How

    To deposit resources with ALORA you need to log on from the LAMUS interface. Prior to logging on to LAMUS, you need to have a user account

    which grants you a user name and a password. To obtain a user accoung, please send and e-mail to the Archive Manager at

Ressources du Département de Langues et Cultures camerounaises de l'Ecole normale supérieure de l'Université de Yaoundé I

Expressions usuelles en koonzime

Expressions usuelles en ewondo

Expressions usuelles en ngemba

Expressions usuelles en tupuri

Expressions usuelles en basaa

More resources here soon!


Click here to view the atlas

CERDOTOLA celebrated its fortieth anniversary

Book Announcement !


New York

Title (English): Teaching National Languages and Cultures. Theoretical, Pragmatic and Didactic Approaches

Title (French): Enseignement des langues et cultures nationales. Approches théoriques, pragmatiques et didactiques

Publisher: CERDOTOLA

Editors: Bitjaa Kody, Zachée Denis and Ngué Um, Emmanuel

Year: 2018

ISBN: 978-9956-796-17-4

Pages: 245

Parter institutions, associations, projects and networks:

For any inquiry and/or request deposit, please send e-mail to or call +237677066803