“It’s like a miracle”

November 28, 2011 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language

Last year I spent two weeks in Zambia’s Western Province, training a group of people to survey the languages of their vast province as they sought to start developing their languages and translating the Bible into them. Since then I have been excited to see the rapid and encouraging progress that the team has made.

Recently the project was featured on BBC World Service, and on the BBC website, with the website article particularly focusing on the Shanjo people and their language, ciShanjo.

“It’s like a miracle,” says Hastings Sitale, recalling how he felt when he saw a booklet written in ciShanjo, a language he had only ever spoken before. Read the rest of this entry →

Bantu Language Development

September 9, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Bible translation, Language, Tanzania

The majority of language communities in Tanzania are from the Bantu language family. But what is the Bantu family? Where did Bantu language groups come from? How did their single language diverge into 500 distinct languages?

Jeff and Heather, who are working with Wycliffe International and based in South Africa, have given a brief introduction to the Bantu language family:

Bantu_expansionMap of the Bantu expansion – created by Mark Dingemanse

… The Bantu peoples of Africa moved from the areas of modern-day Nigeria and Cameroon east and south to modern-day Kenya and down to South Africa.  The Bantu migration took about 1000 years.  Their language changed along the way, creating a large group of related Bantu languages.

Today, there are more than 500 different Bantu languages spoken by more than 200 million Africans in 17 African countries spanning from the equator to South Africa.  About 250 of these languages have no scripture representing about 14 million people.  Most of the Bantu languages without scripture have not been written down.  Many of the Bantu languages remaining without scripture are located in Tanzania and Uganda.  Learn more about Bantu language projects in Tanzania and Uganda. Read more

Their post goes on to explain how similarities between languages allow for tools to be developed that can take advantage of these similarities, helping one language community to build on the work of others.

Please pray for church leaders and others in these Bantu communities, and particularly for those in Katavi Region of Tanzania who are just starting to work together to make Scripture available in several related Bantu languages there.

The Katavi Cluster Project has officially begun!

August 17, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe

Thanks for your prayers over the last couple of weeks for the partnership meetings and language survey in the west of Tanzania, exploring the possibility of a new Bible translation programme among language groups there. We were excited to hear that the main partnership meeting yesterday went really well. Louise writes:

After introductions Rev. Mwita led the group in a devotion from 1 Kings 5:1-18. In small groups, they discussed questions together and then fed back to the group about how Solomon and Hiram worked together well on the same project for different purposes. I gave an introduction including to Bible translation and the Church, and what language development and Bible translation projects look like. What is the church’s role. Susi then did a great job presenting the outcome of the sociolinguistic research they/we did.

Now it was the first time the rubber would really hit the road. Mwita asked, “Do you want to cooperate together to be involved in this ministry? The answer – “Yes!” “How can we not?” “This will be a tremendous help to us in our ministries.” “People will understand God and His Word so much better if they have the Bible in their mother tongue.”….

Then the church leaders discussed which languages, and they did so with real understanding and wisdom, taking into account all that they had heard from Susi’s presentation and what they already knew. The discussion was animated and positive. In the end, they decided on the following:

For language development and Bible translation:
1) Bende (to also serve Tongwe)
2) Pimbwe ( to also serve Rungwa)

For distribution, Scripture Use work, and possibly literacy and non-print media:
1) Sukuma
2) Rundi

For more investigation:

1) Lwila

Susi and I discussing language possibilities with the church leaders

They then chose an interim committee to send out the minutes from this meeting and to set up the next meeting, which will be November 3rd. Its members are from the Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Africa Inland, and Tanzania Assemblies of God churches. read more

Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to pray for the communities and church leaders in western Tanzania. We’re very excited to see what God is doing there, and to think about how we may be working alongside some of the people in the photos in the next couple of years!