Those of you who have been following our progress for a while may remember that back in 2004 (before Laura and I had even met…) I was involved in a sociolinguistic survey of the Nyiha and Nyika peoples of southwest Tanzania and northern Zambia and Malawi. My diary of the survey trip, which I look back at with some embarrassment from time to time, is in the archives

Several years later, after lots of reviewing by different people, the sociolinguistic report has been published on the SIL International website, along with reports from the Fipa and Sichela language surveys. (Again you can see my diary and some photos from our Fipa and Sichela research trips).

The Nyiha of Tanzania are part of a Bible translation program centered in the town of Mbeya, and have recently translated the first Bible portions in their language for almost 100 years! You can find out more about the Nyiha translation project and those involved here. Some of the other Nyiha and Nyika groups mentioned in the report may be able to adapt these Scriptures into their own languages at some point.

The main question that we were seeking to answer during the Nyiha survey was whether there were different dialects of Nyiha that were sufficiently diverse so as to require separate translations of the Bible. We were able to talk with many people in a variety of villages throughout the Nyiha-speaking area, listening to their opinions and comparing some of the words that they used. Our conclusion was that if the translators were chosen from some of the villages in the center of the area, and stuck to the language used there, then all the Nyiha should be able to understand the Bible well.

It’s exciting for me to see now that not only is the report now available to anyone who wants to know more about the Nyiha people and their language, but more importantly, the recommendations of the research are becoming a reality and the Nyiha are starting to produce Scriptures that can be used throughout the whole community.

Pastor and Retired Pastor reading the Nyiha alphabet chart, August 2004Two Nyiha Pastors reading the newly produced alphabet chart in August 2004

  1. Brian Mugala says:

    I would like to know how far you have gone with the translation of the bible into the nyiha language and kindly send me some copies of your works. You can send to me University of Zambia School of Medicine, P. O Box 50110, Ridgeway. Lusaka. Zambia
    May the grace of God continue blessing your work.

    • Mark says:

      Mwakaata Mr Mugala! I have forwarded your request to the manager of the ministry in Mbeya, so I hope that you will hear from him soon. Please let me know if there is anything else that I can do for you.

  2. Matthew Muntungwa Mugala says:

    Mwakataa Mark! Nanti ulichete lyo chayemba.
    I would like to inquire if it is possible to acquire some copies of Nyika Bible translations, how to acquire them (if possible) and what the process is if there is any. I have been yearning to get a translation done in my own tongue language but I couldn’t find any. I asked some friends in Tanzania but they told me there were no Nyika versions. I am a Nyika speaking person born Zambian and still living in Zambia. My parents were born Malawians, grew up Malawians but later relocated to Zambia where my father got a job as miner labourer back then in
    colonial era. My grandfather was born Malawian but was partly Tanzanian because his father, my great grandfather was born Tanzanian and was Tanzanian but migrated to Malawi way long before Africa had international boundaries and border posts.
    I would appreciate if I could be assisted with some copies. My people too need the Bible in their language.

    • Mark says:

      Mwakaata Matthew! It’s good to hear from you – thanks for your comment! I visited the Nyika in Zambia and Malawi back in 2004, when we were trying to assess how similar the Nyika spoken there is to the Tanzanian Nyiha. We went to Kameme in the far northwest, and also to the Nyika around Mulekatembo on both the Zambia and Malawi side.

      There is currently a translation project in progress into Nyiha in Mbeya, Tanzania, with the very first books of the Bible about to be published next month (September 2012). I’m not sure how easy you will find it to read Tanzanian Nyiha, but it should at least be fairly similar.

      I will pass on your comment and email address to the team leader in Mbeya, to see if he is able to help you in any way.

      Every blessing,

      Mark

  3. Zebron Mwashambwa says:

    Mwakata! Nimeupenda sana huu mradi, naomba kujua nitapateje na mimi copy ya biblia ya Kinyiha?

    Niko DSM kwa sasa.

    Hongereeni sana kwa kufikiria kwa niamba ya Wanyiha.

    Zeb

    • Mark says:

      Mwakaata Zeb! Vipo vitabu vidogo vidogo vya Biblia kwa Kinyiha – Biblia nzima bado. Vinapatikana Mbeya mjini, sehemu inayoitwa “Karibuni Centre”. Nitaongea na wenzetu pale kuuliza kama kuna uwezekano wa kukutumia hivyo vitabu kule Dar es Salaam.

      Salamu nyingi kutoka Mpanda, Katavi, tena tunakutakia Krismasi njema!

      Mark

  4. Mugala Brian says:

    Mwahata Mark. Waje uli ahinza shingaba shnzanza. Ine ndi ahinza. it is a long time I communicated with you regarding the project. I would be glad to be updated on the current progess of your works on the translation.
    UMulungu abalotaje pa mbombo impiti yomuhubomba.

    Brian

    • Mark says:

      Mwahata Brian! It is great to hear from you again after this time! You may be interested to know that there is now a Nyiha website with some pdf books and mp3 audio Scriptures – http://nyihalanguage.com/ I would love to know what you think of the site, and also whether there are many differences between the Nyiha of Tanzania and Zambia. God bless you too!

  5. silomba says:

    Mwakata Mark Wasalipa. Imbombo yako yinza sana. Umulungu akupe injele.

    We need the Bible in PDF or Mp3. I have seen the Nyika film for Jesus.

    Regards

    • Mark says:

      Mwakata Silomba. It is good to hear from you. Our team continues to work on translation of the New Testament into Nyiha. You may also be interested to see the Nyiha website – http://nyihalanguage.com/nih/inyumba-iya-vhanyiha

      I would be happy to hear your thoughts and comments about the site. We are praying that the translation team will continue to progress well, and that we will have more Nyiha Scripture materials soon!

  6. Mugala Brian says:

    Mwahata Yalonde,
    U Yehovah Elshadi abe nimwe munshito yomuhubomba iyo. Ine ne Mugala wa Zambia, lelo ndi nabajenzi bane aba sehulu bali pihanda hu vwaba. Humwitu hohwa Mulehatembo (Mulekatembo) Isoka District.
    Pahuba umusambili wa buganga bwa shingeleza impindi yihusoba iya huti ningayanga nimwe, lelo nhusalifwa uMwene uMulungu uhuti pa bwanda bwilelo pahabalilizyo iha ningayanga nimwe.
    Nhu maha gahwisinda uhu nhasimba e.mail hwa Mark uhulaba uhuti waje huli ivitabu ivinji vye visimbilwe mungantumilaho ndali nililelo ipa ntahaposhelela amazwi nanti gamo pahulalaba huane.
    Pahwanda muhantumila ishitabu shahwa Luti, nishahwa Yona. Ivi vibili vyo vitabu nhubazya uhufiha nashinishi.
    Ningaba uwahuseshela nhani waje mungntumilaho nivwamwabo vwovilipo pahabalilizyo iha.
    Nhusiba ishinyiha shane shili ahinza uhuti nalyoli shihwivwiha.
    Ninashukuru sana Munguakubariki nawewe Mzee Mukubari wetu.
    Mugala Brian
    School of Medicine UNZA Zambia
    6th Yr Med Student

  7. Jimmy-James Mugala says:

    Thanks for the good work and God bless you. How can I get a copy of the Nyiha Bible. I am Zambia (Nyika) and there are a lot of Nyikas here.

  8. Humphrey singogo says:

    Congratulation for good work done.please how can I get copies of books in nyiha so that to help me and my family to master the language? Please assist.

  9. Jericho says:

    Mwahaka mwensi mwe bayaya pliz wangalolako I Bayibo mu chinyiha angantumilako nangu pa WhatsApp inambala yane 0973857545 aje telyonsi antumileko ivikope ivyamalemba ngamo ningasalifya saana

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