Solomana Kante

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Souleymane Kante or Solomana Kante (1922-November 23, 1987) was a Guinean writer and inventor of the N'Ko alphabet for the Manding languages of Africa. N'Ko means 'I say' in all Manding languages.

Kante created N'Ko in 1949 after a night of deep meditation, in response to what he felt were beliefs that Africans were a "cultureless people", and since there was, prior to this time, no indigenous African writing system for his language. N'ko came first into use in Kankan, Guinea as a Maninka alphabet and was disseminated from there into other Manding-speaking parts of West Africa.

New findings by Haitian researcher Rodney Salnave, based on the 1791 writing of Tamerlan, a literate slave in Saint Domingue[1] (now Haiti), as shown that Souleymane Kante was not the inventor of the N'Ko alphabet in 1949. N'Ko was in fact invented 2 centuries earlier, in the early part of the 1700s, by future Segou Empire King Ngolo Diarra (1718-1790) who studied in Timbuktu,[2] Mali, in his youth. Although born in Guinea, Souleymane Kante's family came from Segou in Mali[3] where N'Ko was in use. And Souleymane Kante who revived the N'Ko writing, must have had that alphabet in his family's possession for generations.


  1. ^ Malenfant, Colonel (1814). Des colonies et particulièrement de celle de Saint-Domingue : mémoire historique. Paris: Audibert. p. 213. 
  2. ^ Traoré, Samba Lamine (2012). La Saga de la ville historique de Ségou. Paris: L'Harmattan. p. 43. 
  3. ^ Amselle, Jean-Loup (1996). "Le N'ko au Mali". Cahier d’études africaines. 36 (144): 823–826. 


  • Conrad, David C. (2001). "Reconstructing Oral Tradition: Souleymane Kanté’s Approach to Writing Mande History". Mande Studies 3, 147-200.
  • Kaba, Diaka Laye (1992). "Souleymane Kanté: l’inventeur de l’alphabet N’ko". L’Educateur: Trimestriel Pédagogique des Enseignants de Guinée 11-12, 33
  • Kanté, Bourama (1996). "Souvenir de Kanté Souleymane". Somoya Sila: Journal Culturel de l'Association ICRA-N'KO 19.
  • Kanté, Souleymane (1961). "Alphabet de la langue N’ko: ‘N’ko sebesun’." In Méthode pratique d’écriture N’ko. Kankan, reprinted by Mamady Keita (1995), Siguiri.
  • Vydrine, Valentin, ed. (2001). "Lettres de Souleymane Kanté et Maurice Houis". Mande Studies 3, 133-146.