Gola [NEW]

In his 1969 article in  African Language Studies, “Further indigenous scripts of West Africa: Manding, Wolof, and Fula alphabets and Yoruba holy-writing,” David Dalby, a pioneer in the area, wrote:

“After the present paper had gone to press, Mr. William Siegman of Indiana University gave me information on a fifteenth indigenous West African script, used in Liberia for writing Gola. Mr. Siegman had seen a young Gola student at [180] Cuttington College (Liberia) writing a letter in this script in 1968, but although the student allowed him to take a copy of the letter he declined to provide Mr. Siegman with a key. The student is known to be an official (or zo) of the Gola Poro Society, and maintains that the script is known only to such officials and is normally written by them with charcoal on the bark of trees: he told Mr. Siegman that he had been taught the script by his grandfather (also a zo).

“An examination of the letter reveals that the script is an alphabet, with about 30 characters, and is written from left to right. It has no close resemblance to any other of the known indigenous scripts. One must view the student’s attribution of the script to the Poro Society with scepticism, however, since if this had been the case he would scarcely have communicated the information to a non-member, let alone a European. It is reasonable to assume that the Gola script was invented under stimulus from surrounding tribes, almost all of whom possess indigenous scripts (i.e. Vai, Mende, Loma, Kpelle and Bassa), and the writer would be indebted for further information on its use and for any evidence of its existence prior to 1968.”

Likewise we, too, would love to hear any information whatsoever about this fascinating and secretive script.

6.4281° N, 9.4295° W