JESUS film script completed in eight more languages

When a small team from Cru arrived to visit the Mbeya Cluster Project, the translation teams were ready. They had come to record new versions of the JESUS film. Eight of the language projects had translated scripts, so work began with Vwanji.

While the Vwanji recordings began, other scripts still had a series of final checks to be done. “Three teams, translating into Malila, Ndali and Sangu, were able to check their scripts with an SIL Translation Consultant.,” said Mahali, the Translation Coordinator for Mbeya Cluster Project. “Once that step was done, each of those teams also held several days of reviewers’ meetings to read the script line by line with a small group of peers, testing that it sounds natural and clear.”

In the Vwanji language area, script recording was an encouraging time. “A lot of our Vwanji neighbours lent their voices,” said Karin, SIL Literacy Specialist. “They were excited that the film was being recorded in their own language. Most would never have dreamed they’d be asked to play a part.”

The Bungu, Safwa and Pangwa teams continued with consultant checks. The Kinga team finished their actors’ workshops, finding just the right voices and helping each one practice reading and speaking their lines. Then recording began.

From preparing the script to recording the final voice took the Kinga team nearly two months. “We are delighted at this progress,” said Saul, a Kinga translator. “Before we started, many of our actors lacked confidence in their abilities. But now that they have heard Jesus speaking in their own language, they really want to have the film.”

Later, the Vwanji actors gathered to watch their film together. “It was just a first edit,” said Karin, “but still a very special moment.” Word quickly spread in the Vwanji community. “Many people heard the film had been recorded,” added Nahumu, a Vwanji translator. “Suddenly they were phoning us, trying to buy copies!”

The Cru team returned to the US to finish production on the Kinga and Vwanji films. They plan to return in a few months to record the Malila and Ndali scripts, followed closely by Bungu and Sangu. Three other Mbeya project languages (Bena, Nyakyusa and Nyiha) had already produced and screened the JESUS film. Ten other SIL language projects throughout Tanzania have also released versions of the film.

photo above: Eight language project teams in the Mbeya Cluster Project celebrate, together with guests from Cru, as scripts for the JESUS film were completed and recorded. (photo: Mary Pence)

This story was written for SIL Tanzania by:

Kenny Grindall (Communications Coordinator)

SIL International is a global partner among academic and professional organisations which offer language development services. SIL works alongside speakers of more than 1,700 languages in over 100 countries. Active in Tanzania since 1989, the organization makes its services available to all without regard to religious belief, political ideology, gender, race or ethnolinguistic background.