Acholi: Language Learning Resources
There are not many Acholi-language resources freely available online. Many of the resources upon which I relied while studying the language in Uganda, such as the Rupiny newspaper, are only available in print, and are thus inaccessible to learners who are living outside of Uganda. However, if you know where to look, you’ll be able to find a handful of useful resources for learning and practicing Acholi. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. acoli.online: Acoli.online is a website designed to promote the language and culture of the Acholi people, and it has a wide variety of useful resources for more advanced language learners. Learners can listen to Acholi-language podcasts on the history and culture of the Acholi, many of which focus on the experiences of the Acholi of northern Uganda during the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency. Acoli.online has also compiled numerous Acholi short stories, proverbs and songs, which are both interesting and useful for familiarizing oneself with traditional and literary methods of expression in Acholi.
2. YouTube: Don’t underestimate YouTube! Northern Uganda has a thriving popular music scene, and you’ll find more Acholi music videos on YouTube than you’ll ever be able to watch. Some more popular artists include Romeo Odong, Eddy Wizzy and Lucky Bosmic Otim, who make gospel, dancehall and reggae music, respectively. I find Bosmic Otim’s music to be particularly interesting, since, as a former supporter of Uganda’s ruling party who is now a prominent figure in the political opposition, many of his songs shed light on the contemporary political situation in northern Uganda. If you’re more into hip-hop, northern Uganda has also produced a number of rap artists, including MC Wang Jok and Acholi Rapper Lobby. Finally, the channel “Signature TV Filmz” has a lengthy series of videos on learning Acholi.
3. LiveLingua: LiveLingua has made the Peace Corps Acholi language textbooks freely available online. These resources cover grammar, basic vocabulary and provide a brief introduction to Acholi social and cultural norms, and they will be particularly useful to learners who have just begun to study Acholi.
4. News Broadcasts from NTV News: NTV News is one of Uganda’s most popular television news programs, and much of their content can be found online at the “NTVUganda” YouTube channel. A quick search of the channel for broadcasts from northern Uganda will provide a long list of videos featuring Acholi speakers. Although these videos have English subtitles, they are useful for familiarizing oneself with regional slang and quirks of the Acholi dialects spoken by everyday people in north-central Uganda.
5. glottolog.org: Glottolog has compiled a long list of publications on the Acholi language and culture. Although the majority of these publications cannot be directly accessed through the website, Glottolog provides a useful guide for learners who are unsure of where to find resources. At a university like UW-Madison, many of these resources can be obtained through a short trip to the library or an inter-library loan request.