First Scripture portions drafted in Bende and Pimbwe

June 8, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Bende Choir Recording Workshop - Mwese village

Many of you will remember the Bende and Pimbwe language communities that we were working with from 2012-2013 in Katavi Region of western Tanzania. Over the past year since we left Katavi, our colleagues have continued to work with these communities, helping to devise and test writing systems and preparing to start translating the first portions of Scripture into these languages.

We are always excited to hear news of what is happening in Katavi, and wanted to share with you a couple of stories written by our colleague, Karin.

At the end of the short orthography testing workshop in the village of Majimoto (Pimbwe area), I asked the participants to write stories in Pimbwe. This is not only a good way of practicing their Pimbwe writing skills but it will also help me to gain more insights into the language and continue with the analysis. We would also like to publish a small booklet with stories written in Pimbwe. Most participants wrote folktales or about personal experiences. But one group took out a Swahili Bible and started translating a passage from the gospel of Mark into Pimbwe. That really excited me and touched my heart. It is my hope and prayer that it won’t take much longer until we can officially start translating the Bible into Pimbwe so that the people will get God’s word in their mother tongue.

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Worth more than many apples

April 18, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe


One of my favourite parts of my new job is the fact that I get to hear reports of what is happening in Tanzania’s Dodoma, Katavi and Mbeya Regions as our colleagues are working alongside 20 language communities. While a lot of what happens in our project offices is often routine – analysing phonemes or grammatical constructions, drafting and checking Scripture passages, filing finance records, maintaining IT networks etc – it is always exciting to hear of how the work is impacting the lives of individuals and communities as they engage with materials in their local language.

Recently I heard the following account, told by the Team Leader for the Mbeya project, Pastor Mwaikokesya: Read the rest of this entry →

The histories we tell

March 17, 2014 in Africa, Culture, Mark, Tanzania

Learning in class

Growing up in England and going through the English school system, I enjoyed (and endured) many hours of learning about history. In secondary school I remember learning that some historical sources were biased, and so had to be treated with care, while others were unbiased, and so were supposed to be more reliable. Since then I have come to realise that all history is necessarily told from a particular perspective, and there is no such thing as a neutral / unbiased / objective historical account.

Topics that I remember learning about in school include World Wars 1 and 2, the Roman occupation of Britain 2,000 years ago and the English civil war in the 17th century. There are other parts of British history that I never remember even being mentioned (although I cannot claim to have paid attention to every word that my teachers said…), for example British colonial occupations around the world, the American war of independence, and the complex history of Ireland. To this day the only understanding I have of past Scottish struggles for local autonomy from England is what I gained from watching Braveheart a few years ago. These topics do not seem to make it on to the history syllabus during the first 11 years of English school education. Read the rest of this entry →

Mbeya Planning Meetings

March 4, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Msafiri and Flavian

After spending a week in Dar es Salaam and a week in Dodoma, we flew to Mbeya for planning and review meetings with the team serving 13 language communities throughout Mbeya, Iringa and Njombe regions. This project, with the potential to impact 2.5 million speakers of the 13 languages, was started in 2003 and currently has around 70 staff working both in Mbeya town and in the surrounding communities.

Several of the translation teams are moving forward fast and approaching the completion of the New Testament in their languages, hopefully in the next 3 years. At the same time, some of the other languages have recently begun the process of developing writing systems, and are hoping to start translating the first Scripture portions in the next year or two. Read the rest of this entry →

First SIL Tanzania Flight

February 22, 2014 in Africa, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

First SIL Tanzania Flight

Tanzania is a large country, and travelling can be a major challenge. For example, going from the main city of Dar es Salaam to Mpanda, where we were living last year, took an exhausting 30 hours of driving over paved and dirt roads. Earlier this month I had the privilege of being a passenger on the first operational flight of a new (to us) plane which should allow easier travel for our colleagues working with SIL around the country, and even allow access to some areas that are almost impossible to reach by road.

The plane itself is a small Cessna 206, with room for a pilot and 5 passengers (or 4 passengers and their luggage!) We were piloted by Steve, who has experience of flying in various countries around the world, and had been looking forward to this first flight for a long time! Steve, an SIL/JAARS pilot, seconded to MAF under a partnership between SIL and MAF Tanzania, will continue to operate the plane, based out of the town of Mbeya in southwest Tanzania.

Our flight took two and a half hours from Dodoma to Mbeya, a journey that would have taken probably 10-12 hours by road. Apart from arriving refreshed, we also enjoyed some great views along the way! Read the rest of this entry →