Wycliffe Togo Reaches Millions with Health Video Translations

Quick translation work by Wycliffe Togo has given potentially millions of people across Africa COVID-19 information on video in their own languages.

Abou Sama, Wycliffe Togo Director

On March 21, Wycliffe Togo Director Abou Sama returned from a training event in the U.S. Because his trip back to Togo had included a stopover in New York, Abou was told to quarantine himself at home for two weeks.

During his quarantine, Abou met several times online with Wairimu Irungu, the Wycliffe Global Alliance’s Africa Area Director. Wairimu has been interacting with Alliance organization directors, helping and encouraging them to develop COVID-19 contingency plans and responses to what they are encountering in their specific cultural contexts.

In their 16 April meeting, Abou told Wairimu he had good news from his time in quarantine. He and his Wycliffe Togo staff had connected by phone and online, and they had an idea. A public health information video about COVID-19 was available in French, the country’s official language. But not everyone in Togo speaks French well. The information was not yet available in the two national languages, Ewé and Kabiyé, nor the more than forty other mother tongues spoken in the West African nation.

The Wycliffe Togo video translation team

Abou and his colleagues rallied to add translations in sixteen languages, alerting people to safety measures needed to protect themselves and their communities during the pandemic. They placed all of the videos on YouTube and shared then via other social media as well.

Then, Wycliffe Togo leaders approached the national TV station, Télévision Togolaise, to see if the station would broadcast the videos. The TV executives loved the idea and selected 10 of the languages to use: Haoussa (Hausa), Peul (Fulani), Moba, Kabiyé, Bassar, Tem, Ikposso, Ife, Ewé and Mina.

Since April 13, the videos have been shown in those 10 languages on the TV station, which is also on satellite and seen all over the globe.

Screenshot from the video provided in French. Wycliffe Togo translators have recorded audio in 16 additional languages.

“This had and continues to have a tremendous impact in the country and even outside the country among the diaspora in Western countries like in Germany among the people speaking those languages,” Abou said. “We have positive feedback from different areas. It is very amazing and encouraging!”

The translation work now done serves 7 million people inside Togo and many more outside, because some of the languages are spoken in many surrounding countries. Hausa, for instance, is one of the most important languages of wider communication in West and Central Africa, with 40 to 50 million speakers. Fulani is spoken by at least 18 million people in 16 West African countries; and Ewe by about 6 million people worldwide.

“We are overwhelmed and encouraged to see what the Lord is doing through the document we made,” Abou said. “We praise God who can use the pandemic to position Wycliffe as a key partner with the government and NGOs working together to mobilize their forces to contain the spread of the virus.”


The sixteen languages receiving translated health information from Wycliffe Togo are:

Haoussa (Hausa), Myobe (Miyobe), Moba, Kabiye (Kabiyé, Kabiye), Bassar, Tem, Akebou, Ikposso, Ife, Igo, Ewe (Ewé), Mina, Peul (Fulani), Zerma (Jerma), Akasselem and Agnagan.


Alliance organisations may download the images from this story.

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