N'Ko Alphabet Day Date in the current year: April 14, 2016

N'Ko Alphabet Day N'Ko Alphabet Day is celebrated on April 14 in some West African countries, where the Manding languages are spoken. It marks the anniversary of the date the alphabet is believed to have been finalized.

For a long time, the Manding languages spoken in West Africa did not have an indigenous writing system. African writer Solomana Kante felt that Africans were believed to be a “cultureless people” because of that and was displeased with this belief.

In order to dispel this stereotype, he devised a script for the mutually intelligible languages of the Mande family and named it N'Ko, which means “It say” in all Manding languages. N'Ko is somewhat similar to the Arabic script. For instance, its letters are connected, and its direction is right-to-left.

Kante finalized the script on April 14, 1949. The N'Ko alphabet was first introduced to the Maninka language spoken in Guinea. Its introduction led to the emergence of a movement that promoted literacy in the new alphabet in West Africa.

Nowadays, N'Ko is principally used in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. There also is an active user community in Mali. N'Ko literature is actively evolving into a literary language based on several languages of the Mande family.

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Cultural Observances


Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali


N'Ko Alphabet Day, cultural observance, Manding languages, Solomana Kante, N'Ko script