While many people in Cameroon speak Pidgin English, English and French are the official languages in Cameroon: there are over 600 indigenous languages spoken throughout the country. The area where CETRA is fundraising for the PGWI project, in the Momo division of Northwest Cameroon, has many indigenous languages that are spoken by smaller populations.
In Momo valley, the languages spoken are categorized as “wide grassfields” languages: there are over 62 of them! They include Ngamambo, Meta’, Ngie, Ngoshie, Njen, Ngwo, Busam, Menka, Njen, Ambele, Atong, and Mundani.
The grassfields languages originally stem from Congo Niger languages, which are one of the largest language families in the world. The most widely spoken Congo Niger languages by number of native speakers are Yoruba, Igbo, Fula and Shona and Zulu. The most widely spoken by total number of speakers is Swahili. Most of the Niger-Congo languages have prefixes and suffixes to qualify nouns and verbs as well as words that agree with them. In a noun class system all nouns are marked by an affix; usually one affix signals a singular noun and another signals a plural form.
The specific village where CETRA is helping to fundraise is called Gundom, where the people speak Meta’. There are approximately 87,000 speakers of Meta’ in the world.