Georges Budagu Makoko, publisher of Amjambo Africa, and Nathalie Gorey, the publication’s French translator, co-presented the breakout session “Teaching Francophone Africa with Amjambo Africa!” at the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) conference in Portland on March 6. The workshop provided French teachers with many examples of interpretive tasks that can be completed as students read articles featured in the publication. The approximately 30 teachers who attended left with practical activities to try with their students, based on material from an authentic publication.

The workshop, presented entirely in French, began with Budagu recounting the story of the launch of Amjambo Africa on April 1, 2018. The publication had its genesis in Budagu’s life experiences, which included his arrival in Maine as an asylum seeker fleeing violence in Africa. Recounting his experience, he said, “You are lucky if you never in your life need to flee your home – that is a privilege.” Budagu explained that one of the goals of the publication is to help Mainers understand the forces that lead people to leave their homes. “Educating people about Africa gives me joy – it is my passion,” he said.

Raised in Côte d’Ivoire, Gorey has lived and taught French in Maine for 28 years. She is the president of the Maine chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. To Gorey, educating teachers about the importance of French-speaking Africa is essential. Africa has more French speakers in the world now than France, she explained, adding, “And did you know that Kinshasa is now the city with the largest population of French speakers in the world – more than Paris?”

Gorey pointed out that thanks to the newly arrived African immigrants who have made their homes in Maine, the state is seeing a French renaissance: French teachers have the opportunity to educate their students about African cultures and also to demonstrate the real-life importance of learning additional languages.

Note to teachers: The Amjambo Africa website includes many articles and videos in French (as well as Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Somali, and Portuguese) that could serve as the basis for home-based learning during this time of school closures.