Mende is a member of the Mande branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken mainly in Sierra Leone, and also in Liberia, by about 2.1 million people.
In Sierra Leone Mende has about 2 million speakers in Kailahun, Kenema, and Pujehun district of the Eastern province, in Bombali and Moyamba districts in the Northern province, and in interior parts of the Southern Province. Mendeis a statutory provincial working language in the areas where it is spoken, and is taught at all levels of education.
In Liberia there were about 36,000 speakers of Mende in 2015, mainly in Porkpa district of Grand Cape Mount county, and in Vahun district of Lofa county. It is used as a second language by the Vai people.
Mende is also known as Boumpe or Hulo, and the native names for the language are Mɛnde (𞡓𞠣) and Mɛnde yia (𞠗𞢱 𞡓𞠣).
Mende was written with a syllbary known as Kikakui, but is now usually written with the Latin alphabet.
Numuvuisia Kpɛlɛɛ ta ti le tɛ yɛ nduwɔ ya hu, tao ti nuvuu yei kɛɛ ti lɔnyi maa hɛwungɔ. Kiiya kɛɛ hindaluahu gɔɔla a yɛlɔ ti hun. Fale mahoungɔ ti ti nyɔnyɔhu hoi kia ndeegaa.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Details compiled by Michael Peter Füstumum
Page last modified: 08.05.21
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