I wish to take advantage of this Festive Season to wish you a joyful and restful period as well as wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Equally I want to take the opportunity to brief you on the forthcoming WOCAL 6, particularly as things are starting to unfold.

1. Conference Venue and dates The Congress will be held in the premises of the University of Cologne between 17th and 21st August 2009. Since Cologne is well situated both geographically and in terms of WOCAL membership, we expect many participants to make it.

2. Call for Abstracts As it is the usual practice with WOCAL, the Congress Organizers have sent out a Call for abstracts, setting the deadline for 20th December 2008. Most prospective participants will most probably send their abstracts at the ast moment, particularly as this is a hectic period for most of the colleagues. The Congress will cover many topics as it is customary, with sub-themes ranging from descriptive to applied areas of African linguistics. I wish to appeal to you, as members of the Standing Committee, to come to the Congress as much as possible. We should set an example. Remember, according to the Constitution of WOCAL, if one misses two consecutive WOCALs, his/her membership to the Committee is automatically forfeited. [Of course, the Special WOCAL 6 in Brazil will not be counted, as it was special].

3. Congress Languages As it is enshrined in the WOCAL constitution, the languages to be used at the Congress will be English and French. However, all abstracts will have to be submitted in English to the Congress Organizers.

4. Accommodation Matthias has started looking for rooms in hotels and to set guarantees. Coincidentally, the Congress will overlap with a major Trade Fair being held in Cologne at almost the same time, which means that hotel rooms will be not only difficult to get but also more expensive, unless booked early. The dilemma would be that one cannot predict the number of participants and the type of accommodation they would prefer.

5. Opening Session As usual, the opening session will be carried out by a senior official of the University or country. Matthias is still negotiating this aspect. He will also ask a senior scholar to give the opening talk.

6. University Support It is gratifying that the University of Cologne has shown willingness to support the Congress. This is mainly thanks to the tireless efforts of Matthias. He is also trying other venues. One promising source would be DAAD which would consider sponsoring DAAD Alumni (those who were sponsored by DAAD in the past).

7. Workshop on African Sign Languages One important feature of the Congress will be a special workshop which will take place on 18th August 2009. The Workshop has attracted a lot of interest and therefore an international Organizing Committee has been drawn with members from Europe, American, Japan and Africa. The topics to be covered in the Workshop will include origins of the African sign languages, lexical characteristics, documentation efforts, planning and standardization. It is hoped that such a workshop will draw many participants and will be a special mark of the Congress.

8. Workshop Emails Matthias would be happy to receive ideas and comments on this honorable task before him. He can be reached on WOCAL6@uni-koeln.de or Matthias.brenzinger@uni-koeln.de. I am sure he may wish to say more about the preparations.

I wish to take this opportunity, once again, to thank our colleague, Matthias, and his team for the significant stride he has achieved in this task so far. We wish him good health, strength, wisdom and success in the remaining tasks ahead.