SIL Cameroon Aviation : Fifty Years of Preserving Cameroon’s Linguistic Heritage

Fifty years after the arrival of the first Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) plane in Cameroon’s economic capital Douala, officials say the institution will sustain  efforts  to preserve the vitality of Cameroonian languages.

A ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of SIL Cameroon Aviation, coupled with the official presentation of the 2022 annual report held in Yaoundé this April 11, 2023.

SIL staff and partners massively turned out for the 50th anniversary of SIL Cameroon Aviation

The occasion was an opportunity to look back at the milestone covered during the last 50 years of the SIL Cameroon Aviation.

SIL and Local Development

For the past 50 years, SIL Cameroon Aviation planes have contributed in transporting researchers to the field to identify local languages, and transport patients from enclaves zones to hospitals. It has also helped to transport SIL equipment, partners and facilitate translation.

The planes have been manned by Deutsch, Canadian, French, English and American Pilots who have contributed to the success of the institution. One of them is Mark Spangler who has been a SIL pilot in Cameroon for 11 years.

“We are just excited to be able to assist our translators, linguists and the medical field to support Cameroon, and to help people see what is possible when they commit their lives to following Jesus Christ and trusting what the word is telling them”,  Mr Spangler said .

Mark Spangler has been a SIL Cameroon Aviation pilot for 11 years.

“In doing so, it improves their lives and also gives hope for the future, thereby improving our community and eventually our country,”he added.

Vitality of Languages

After 50 years of preserving Cameroon’s linguistic heritage, SIL officials want to strengthen the vitality of Cameroonian languages.

“The perspective for going forward is not just focusing on the translation of Bibles but focusing on the vitality of languages. We have to preserve those languages that are almost dead or extinct and make sure there are at least audio recordings because we believe that each language matters, each life matters. We want to preserve the culture and heritage of Cameroon,” Fabienne Freeland, General Director told Crtv Web.

Fabienne Freeland is Director General of SIL Cameroon

2022 Success Story

SIL Cameroon’s success in 2022 is spread across four domains; Bible translation and Scripture Engagement, Bible Translation Progress, Consultants-in-Training, Workshop and Training.

As for Bible Translation and Scripture Engagement, SIL consultants supervised 24 Bible translation programs, and provided training and support to Bible translators.

Portions of the Bible through audio, song or oral story telling format were produced in over 16 languages.

Over eight local Scripture Engagement teams equally facilitated the use of translated scriptures in other communities.

SIL successfully started 18 translation projects, among them three Old Testament projects. Seven were distributed to the Far North, eight to the North West and West, and three to the South region. Seven new Translation projects; four Old Testament and three New Testament projects for the North West, Centre and East regions.

Five Cameroonian men are currently being trained to become translation consultants, while over 65 church leaders in Cameroon underwent Scripture Engagement Trainings.

About SIL

SIL is an American Christian non-profit making organization created in 1934  to develop minority local languages.

The organization has more than 4000 linguists and translators in 90 countries working in over 1700 language communities.


Kathy Neba Sina 

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