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Vernacular Newspaper Celebrates 200th Edition

Country: Solomon Islands
Language group: Sa'a
Population: 10,700

Learning to read for the first time in a language of wider communication like English is difficult for speakers of minority languages. Many beginning readers give up and never learn to read well, even in their home language. In the Solomon Islands, English is the school language, but it is not the first language of most people. There, in Sa'a village on Small Malaita island, the publication of a local language newspaper is helping to solve this reading problem.

The "Aahuri Ni Sa'a" is a small newspaper written in the Sa'a language. The Sa'a Bible translation project began this paper in December 1992 for the purpose of helping people improve their reading skills in the local language. It has continued to be produced about every fortnight since then.

A Sa'a woman reads the newspaper in her own language.

The newspaper spreads the news of local events like sports competitions, church meetings, and village projects. Some articles contain important announcements from the chiefs and other community leaders such as the village committee, school principal, and clinic nurse. Villagers also submit articles on topics they are interested in and occasionally advertise their services or products.

The Aahuri Ni Sa'a newspaper motivates people to read and gives them fresh material for regular practice in reading. It provides a consistent example of writing which models standard spelling. It has helped many people to read their own language smoothly and fluently.

Jonathan Soiseu spreads the ink by hand since the inking mechanism of the old duplicator is broken.

The Aahuri newspaper staff produced early editions with a typewriter and a duplication machine. Though the staff still uses the old duplicator for printing multiple copies of the newspaper, they have learned to use a computer to type the stories and make the stencils. Now the paper has a more professional look and can include pictures and drawings.

A number of different people have worked together to make the newspaper a success. Most significant are Mr. Jonathan Soiseu and Mr. Davie Upwe who have faithfully contributed to the newspaper. Through the years they have also trained and worked alongside several other reporters and productions editors. All those who have served on the Aahuri staff gathered together in Sa'a village on Small Malaita recently for the 200th edition celebration.

Aahuri Ni Sa'a staff gather to celebrate the 200th edition of the newspaper. Shown here from left to right are Jacob Rahe, John Hou, Fox Poitala, John Mark Ohapwa'o'o, David Upwe, and Jonathan Soiseu.



Information gathered from a longer two-page spread written by SIL member James Ashley originally appearing in the SOLOMON STAR, Wednesday, 20 February, 2002.