The gospel of Luke in the Kabwa language

December 15, 2011 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Tanzania

Last month another of the language groups in Tanzania’s Mara Region, the Kabwa, celebrated the completion and publication of the gospel of Luke in their language. The Kabwa are a relatively small language community that the language survey team that I was part of visited back in 2005,┬áliving mainly in just two villages to the south of Musoma town. Despite being a small group the Kabwa are very proud of their language and were eager to translate the Bible so that they could understand it better and pass it on to future generations.

Our colleague Michael Nicholls has again taken some excellent photos of the dedication event last month, some of which are below: Read the rest of this entry →

After years of perseverance…

October 28, 2011 in Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Tanzania

Andrew and Misha are friends of ours who are working in Tanzania’s Mara Region to support local pastors as they translate the Bible into several languages there. Their blog is always interesting to follow, both to gain an insight into the kinds of issues that they encounter in their work and also to see what daily life is like for them in Mara.

Recently they have written a couple of posts about how some of the first parts of Scripture to be produced have been received in the various language communities. This is particularly interesting and exciting for me, as these were communities that I was involved in surveying back in 2005 and 2006 (and again in 2006) to evaluate their need for Bible translation and to help collect words for an initial alphabet creation workshop. Read the rest of this entry →

Luke’s gospel dedicated in Ikoma

October 7, 2011 in Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Tanzania

On Monday this week the gospel of Luke, translated into the Ikoma language from the south-east of Tanzania’s Mara Region, was dedicated by the church leaders and translators who had been involved in the translation project for the last few years. For me it was a great excitement to see this first Scripture book produced in Ikoma, just over six years after the survey team that I was part of first visited Ikoma, Nata and Isenye villages to meet people and discuss the need for Bible translation into their language.

Michael Nicholls, a colleague of ours, has posted some excellent photos from the day, a few of which I have reproduced below… Read the rest of this entry →

Luke translated into Ikoma, Kabwa and Zanaki

September 26, 2011 in Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Tanzania

Back in July and August 2005 I was part of a language assessment team that was asked by the church leaders in Tanzania’s Mara Region to research the various languages spoken in the region and assess the need for Bible translation. The research trip was a memorable one for me in many ways, ranging from the fascinating people, culture and languages (and animals) of Mara Region, to the frequent trips to the internet cafe in Musoma to check on the cricket scores and to see if Laura (who I had met a few weeks previously) had emailed.

Six years on and it is very exciting to see the progress that has been made in the translation project since then, and in particular to see that the first Bible books in some of the languages are about to be published! The book of Luke has been recently translated into the Ikoma, Kabwa and Zanaki languages of Mara Region, spoken by a total of around 150,000 people. Read the rest of this entry →

Ikizu Bible translation: Hopes and Challenges in northern Tanzania

March 4, 2011 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Language, Tanzania

Our friends Andrew and Michelle are working alongside translators and literacy workers from nine language groups in Tanzania’s Mara Region, an area that I was involved in a linguistic survey of back in 2005 and 2006. Since I was there the languages have been analysed, alphabets developed, and the first parts of Scripture published in many of these communities.

Andrew and Michelle have begin a series of blog posts focusing on each language group in turn in order to help people around the world to pray for the communities and for the needs of their staff in the translation project. They have started with the Ikizu and Sizaki peoples, who speak languages that are close enough to be able to use the same written materials.


There are about 132,000 Ikizu and Sizaki people, a few of whom are pictured here. While Ikizu and Sizaki people consider themselves to be different people groups, their languages are very closely related, and Sizaki is considered a dialect of Ikizu. There are a few minor pronunciation differences, but their vocabulary and grammar is essentially the same. The groups get along well, and the Sizaki (who are significantly fewer than the Ikizu) seem happy to accept the Ikizu writing system and Bible translation as their own.

As with all the groups in Mara (Mara is a region of Tanzania), there are Christians, Muslims, and people who practice traditional religion. Roman Catholic is the largest denomination, followed by Seventh Day Adventist. There are also Mennonite, Anglican, and a variety of small Pentecostal churches. Some villages have no churches at all and people have to travel to another village on Sunday if they wish to attend. In the traditional Ikizu religion, the sun is the main god, and deceased ancestors play an important role. There are various taboos to follow and special places to worship, such as groves of trees.

When the translation project began, there were two Ikizu translators. One of them has recently moved away and we are not able to hire another one right now. Rukia, the lone Ikizu translator at this point, is pictured above. Unfortunately, she has recently been plagued by health problems. Medical care in Musoma is a bit lacking, so Rukia really needs prayers for her health.

The Ikizu translation of Luke is almost ready for beginning the publication process. There are just a few final checks that need to be done. Unfortunately, with there being only one ill translator working on the project, these steps might take longer than planned. The book of Ruth and some tracts are also in process. A committee of Scripture reviewers and a language committee have recently been formed, each having their first meeting in February. Read more

Please pray for the Ikizu and Sizaki peoples, and follow Andrew and Michelle’s blog for upcoming profiles on other language communities in Mara Region and the challenges they face.