Born in Cameroon, I always wanted to know more about Africa. My study of African linguistics resulted in a PhD thesis on Maasinankoore, a dialect of Fulfulde which is a language spoken in West Africa. During my PhD research, Fulfulde was introduced as a language of instruction in primary education in Mali. This kindled the hope that once I might be able to contribute to the making of Fulfulde schoolbooks. This was a reason to follow evening courses in Teacher Training and Master in Special Educational Needs.
I am interested in the link between language and culture. During my stint as a post-doctoral research fellow at the African Studies Center, Leiden, I investigated and published on Fulbe ethnicity through the prism of Fulfulde cultural keywords such as pulaaku ‘Fulbe community and traits’, yaage ‘restrained behaviour’ and Pullo ‘one Fulbe person’. I also collaborated on research on education in the Mande region leading the publication of a special issue of the journal Mande Studies (2006). I am also interested in the preservation of all forms of Fulbe cultural heritage. In 2010, with support from the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library I created digital records of 1500 pages of Fulfulde poetry composed by Usman dan Fodio and his contemporaries (in the late 18th and early 19th century).
I am a member of NVAS because this association enables me to share my interest in Africa with others. This is how I keep my dream alive to return to Africa and do some useful work there. The great diversity in topics that are covered in the annual events that the NVAS organises (2011 cultural heritage, 2012 food, 2013 everyday life, 2014 justice, 2015 technology, 2016 sport, 2017 education) makes it possible for me to continue to acquire new knowledge and insights about Africa in the Netherlands.
Mail Anneke Breedveld