Beginning of the Language Project

Starting the project in Lankaviri

In April 1967 Peter and Ruth Krusi started language work with SIL in Lankaviri. The goal was to collect enough language data in order to be able to analyze the phonology and grammar, as well as to produce some initial reading material.

Beautiful countryside in Lankaviri
Linguistic Research Workers Ruth and Peter Krusi with family
Krusis compound from the inside. Left of the sun shed is the sleeping room, on the right the kitchen. In front is the hut of the chief and his wife.

 In this environment we found an almost monolingual situation, which means that a high percentage of the people did not understand English or Hausa. To us this seemed to be absolutely ideal for learning the language.

Living in such an environment is quite an adventure for Europeans that are not used to such rudimentary conditions. There were some problems that had to be solved, such as sanitary installations or cooking facilities. In order to get enough water we made a contract with Bensa who agreed to carry two barrels of water every day from the river to our compound for which he was paid every week. In the same way we employed Bissa for the washing, Mezo for the work in the kitchen, and of course, some people to help us in learning the language.


After an intensive survey of the language situation in Mumuye land, we decided to start language work in Lankaviri, about 20 miles from Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State. With the permission of the government and the Emir of Jalingo we settled in the compound of the late village chief Kpanti Gana. Our idea was to stay as close as possible to the people in order to be surrounded by the language constantly, and also to be able to investigate the way of living of this people.

Lankaviri is a small town with a kernel mostly inhabited by other people than Mumuye. The Mumuye people themselves live around this market spot in their compounds that are widely scattered in the countryside. The village is surrounded by hills that become higher towards the east and end up in high mountains in Cameroon.

The chiefs compound with Krusis Volkswagen outside

Living in Mumuye Land

About 4 years after we started work in Lankaviri, Kpanti Gana asked us if we would give him the houses back. So we started to build our own house, just outside of Kpanti's compound. The house was constructed according to his vision, and a contract was made in the presence of the Emir of Jalingo. We agreed that the house will go back to the chief's family after we will have finished our work.


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At that time we could welcome several visitors who helped us not only building the house, but also creating the first reading books or writing the phonological analysis. One of the guests was Heinrich Mueller from Switzerland, now News Journalist and Anchorman of the Swiss National TV in Zurich.

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