Translations Nearing Completion in Tanzania

A teacher uses millet to demonstrate a key word.

Another five language communities in the Mbeya region of Tanzania will soon have their own New Testament translations. Sixteen years ago, translation work began in six neighboring languages in this region, forming the Mbeya Cluster project. This project allowed different language teams to work closely together, helping each other overcome challenges and sharing biblical key terms. Now, five language groups are close to finishing their New Testaments, while a sixth language community, Nyakyusa, dedicated their completed New Testament in May 2019.

On his way to a Nyakyusa translation team meeting, senior translator Andrew Mwamatandala carried a copy of the New Testament.

“I saw a teenager passing and asked him to read [the New Testament] for me,” Andrew said. “He did, and then he laughed and said, ‘I can read it! Before, I could not, but this writing is very nice.’”

The Kinga New Testament has been reviewed and printed, while the Malila translation team is nearing the same milestone.

“They just completed a draft of the typesetting of their New Testament and will read through it with their reviewers soon,” said Ahimidiwe Mahali, translation co-ordinator for the Mbeya Cluster.

Vwanji translators, who work in the same office as the Malila translation team, are finishing a second typeset draft of their New Testament. And the Sangu team is working with a translation consultant on final checks, with linguistic checks to follow.

The Ndali team is also approaching the finish line.

“While they meet with the language committee and prepare for linguistic checks, they have even had a read-through [of the New Testament],” Ahimidiwe said. Two pastors from the Ndali community and 12 local reviewers participated in the read-through. For 15 days they took turns reading and discussing the text.

“We even met on Saturdays to be sure we covered everything,” said one of the Ndali translators. One pastor told the team he was going to use the draft copies of the Scriptures immediately. “Because we have these copies,” he said, “I am going to use them for teaching and preaching right now.”

In addition to printed books, all six New Testaments in the Mbeya Cluster will be published in audio and digital form.


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