The N'Ko alphabet was invented by Soulemayne Kante of Kankan, Guinea, in 1949. It is mainly used by speakers of Maninka, Bambara, Dyula and their dialects in Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.
Soulemayne Kante was born in 1922. As a young man, he was angered when he read that some foreigners considered Africans cultureless since they didn't have an indigenous writing system. In response, he developed Nko to give African people their own alphabet to record their cultures and histories in their native languages. He wrote hundreds of educational materials in Maninka using the N'ko alphabet. His aim was to explain complex or foreign ideas to speakers of Maninka using their own language. He wrote introductory books on subjects as diverse as astrology, economics, history and religion. Many of his works are still available from l'Association ICRA-N'KO.
Publications in the N'Ko alphabet include the Qur'an, textbooks on various subjects, poetry, philisphical works, a dictionary and a number of local newspapers.
The pronunciation of some letters may be different for each language written with N'Ko.
Download an alphabet chart for N'Ko (Excel)
Hear the sounds of the N'Ko alphabet:
Information about N'Ko
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Page last modified: 15.03.23
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