Momolu Duwalu Bukele
Momolu Duwalu Bukele (sometimes known as Momolu Duala Bukare, or spelled as Mɔmɔlu Duwalu Bukɛlɛ) was the inventor of the Vai syllabary used for writing the Vai language of Liberia—one of several sub-Saharan African languages to develop its own writing system.
Bukele is thought to have invented it around 1833, although dates as early as 1815 have been alleged. According to Ayodeji Olukoju, the script certainly dates from after 1819, when Bukele returned to the interior of Liberia after a period of residence on the coast. The syllabary is supposed to have been revealed to him in a dream, and to have been communicated to friends and tribal elders.
Olukoju argues that the original idea must have arisen from his experience of literacy in coastal Liberia during his sojourn there, and that the visionary experience described may have followed from a period of work on the idea. Tuchscherer and Hair (2002) have presented evidence that exposure to the Cherokee syllabary was part of the process. Part-Cherokee migrants from the US lived in coastal Liberia.
After his creation of the syllabary Bukele and his supporters set up a school in Dshondu to teach the system, and other schools soon followed at Bandakoplo, Mala and other locations.
- Ayodeji Olukoju, Customs and Culture of Liberia, 2006, Greenwood Press, p.43
- Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art, African Arts, Autumn, 2007 by Christine Mullen Kreamer, Mary Nooter Roberts, Elizabeth Harney, Allyson Purpura
- Ayodeji Olukoju, p. 43
- Dalby, David. 1967. A survey of the indigenous scripts of Liberia and Sierra Leone: Vai, Mende, Kpelle, and Bassa. African Language Studies 8:1–51.
- Tuchscherer, Konrad and P.E.H. Hair. 2002. Cherokee in West Africa: Examining the Origins of the Vai Script. History in Africa 29:427–486.
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