Monday, January 15, 2024

20th anniversary of Beyond Niamey

On this 20th anniversary of the first post on Beyond Niamey, I thought I'd present a chronological list of all 242 posts since then and prior to this one. That total averages out to be one post a month, but the actual pace varied a lot over the years.

This blog is fully searchable and posts are tagged, however, there wasn't an easy way to browse the titles. Most archiving features and derived lists such as the below, tend to be in reverse chronological order, which has the effect of burying older material - a big problem with digital archiving in general. So the choice of starting with the oldest post here is deliberate.

I began writing here on the eve of my departure from Niamey, Niger, so the title anticipated that somewhat bittersweet transition. So, it began more as a personal blog, but very quickly evolved into a platform for news and thoughts about African languages. Some more background is available on this blog's "About" page.









  • No posts during this period.












2024 (prior to the current post, only)


Archives of the "AfricanLanguages" YahooGroup

"AfricanLanguages" was a Yahoo! Group on which was posted a lot of material about languages in Africa, including popular press articles from around the continent. A browsable and searchable subset of the message archives, including ~800 messages from 11 September 2004 through 31 August 2013, is available on

I personally did a fair amount of posting on AfricanLanguages, including during the 9-year period captured on Mail-archive. Those posts often included the full text of articles under fair use doctrine, in addition to their inherently impermanent links. So this archive may be of some use to people interested in attitudes, policies, and research on African languages during that period.

Background of "AfricanLanguages" & my involvement

In 1999, Kenyan author Mwangi wa Mutahi set up an email list called AfricanLanguages as a "forum for African Language reading and writing," with the service then known as eGroups. That platform was acquired by Yahoo! in August 2000, and renamed Yahoo! Groups, or simply Yahoogroups.

When I discovered and joined this group in 2002, it had been somewhat inactive after an early period of activity (which is a typical pattern with many email lists). The posts, if memory serves, were all in English and about the languages of Africa - status, use, etc. I picked up on that pattern and became the most active poster to the group, and naturally communicated with the list owner to explain my interest and object.

At the time, I was already working on some forums about African languages and technology (the A12n lists and Unicode-Afrique), and saw an advantage to keeping track of developments with regard to the languages, without the tech and localization dimensions. The AfricanLanguages group seemed perfect for that, since I could help build on efforts there rather than starting another new list.

Some time in 2004, at my request, Mwangi wa Mutahi made me an administrator of the group. That enabled me to connect AfricanLanguages with Mail-archive, which is why we have the archives there now.

My activity tapered off in the early 2010s due to changing professional demands, but it's not clear why the archiving on Mail-archive stopped at the end of August 2013.

Erasure of Yahoo! Groups vs the race to archive them

In October 2019, Yahoo! announced that it would discontinue and delete the groups service as of 14 December of that year. I discussed this whole issue at some length in posts here on 31 October and 15 December, 2019.

Happily, it does appear that a message archive for AfricanLanguages was saved on However, that was evidently saved together with message archives of about 90 other Yahoogroups, and in a format that seems complicated to access. Some other lists of interest such as Unicode-Afrique have similarly been archived as parts of larger batches. So there's hope to resurface these small but unique windows on the recent history of African languages and their interface with information technology.