There was great local participation in the workshop, and the participants as a whole came together in Mmazami from the three main Kabwa villages prior to the workshop to choose who would serve in specific roles. In addition to the 24 Kabwa men and women who filled the roles for the word collection groups (leaders, scribes, language experts), there were also 6 Kabwa glossers and 2 Kabwa typists. Stiphin Mugasa Oyoga served admirably as the Coordinator for the workshop and Richard Kigi Nyamaru made sure things ran smoothly as Logistics Manager. The remaining 4 typist roles were filled by expat staff from the local SIL Mara office and John Raphael Masige, one of the Kabwa Bible translators. Johnny Walker served as the consultant for the workshop with help from Oliver Stegen for the training week.
One of the big challenges for the workshop was lack of quality space. The original plan had been to have the entire workshop in the Anglican church, but another visiting group needed to use the church during the training week and the first week of word collection. This forced the workshop to begin in the smaller, nearby Catholic church. There was also a lack of tables for the word collection groups to work on, even though these had been promised prior to the commencement of the workshop. Even with the lack of quality space, the groups did not seem to complain too much and were still quite productive.
An issue that caused some setbacks in the work was a malfunctioning generator. Since the computers were relying on the generator as their main source of power, there were several periods when data entry ground to a halt while the generator problems were sorted out. Thankfully, the data-entry team was large enough and experienced enough to do a good job of catching up for lost time.
For John Raphael Masige, the Kabwa translator who helped with the RWC, one challenge was that many local people began to ask him if they could also join the workshop! He had to diplomatically respond that we didn’t have more space for them. However, it is evident that the community is excited about the work.
Another major challenge for this RWC was the fact that the questionnaire had to be translated into Swahili in order for the groups to be able to do their work effectively. The translation effort was delayed several times for a number of reasons and finally came to rest mainly on a small group of expats at the local SIL office. In the end, domains 1-8 were completed (domain 9 was still lacking). In spite of the challenges in translation, the questionnaire seemed to generally communicate well to the Kabwa teams and there were only minor questions here and there as the groups worked through it.
Impact of the Workshop
At the conclusion of the workshop, the groups were happy and proud of the work that was accomplished (even though they had hoped to get to 10,000 words collected) and are looking forward to a dictionary being published as a result of the RWC. They saw that they had been instrumental in helping to preserve their language for future generations.
The visibility of the RWC also helped to spread the word in the wider community about the language development work that is ongoing. It quickly became known around town that the expats working as part of the RWC were interested in the Kabwa language and these expats were barraged by Kabwa greetings every day as they went to eat lunch in town. People were often quite surprised and happy to hear that work is ongoing towards the production of a Kabwa dictionary. Many have mentioned that they want to continue participating in the development of the dictionary.
Additionally, the RWC became a location for selling local-language literature and many people stopped by to buy books and other published material in the Kabwa language. One young man didn’t have enough money to buy the gospel of Luke in Kabwa and so the salesman made a deal with him. He returned soon after with a basket of mangos and traded those in for his very own book of Luke in Kabwa!