Many encouraged by final checks, celebration plans and more

Mbeya Region, Tanzania —

A Scripture translation “cluster project” in southwestern Tanzania has its eyes on several major milestones. Sixteen years since work began, a group of six neighbouring language communities are about to bring all their New Testaments to completion.

One is ready for its official launch. The Nyakyusa team have received their printed New Testaments and now spend much of their time working with the local language committee to finalise details of the plan for Celebration Day. On his way to a meeting, Senior Translator Andrew Mwamatandala carried a copy. “I saw a teenager passing, and asked him to read for me,” said Mwamatandala. “He did, and then he laughed and said, ‘I can read it! Before I could not, but this writing is very nice!’ “

Meanwhile, the Kinga New Testament has passed all checks and been delivered to the printer in Asia for that phase to begin. “The team working on the Malila translation are not far behind,” said Ahimidiwe Mahali, Translation Coordinator for the Mbeya Cluster. “They just completed a draft of the typesetting for their New Testament and will read through it with their reviewers soon.” Like the Nyakyusa team, both spend much time with their language committee looking months ahead to “launch day”.

At the same time, in the same office, the Vwanji translators are finishing a second typeset draft. For the Sangu team, final checks with a Translation Consultant are ongoing with linguistic checks to follow. Both language committees have established special sub-committees to focus on launch plans.

All six New Testaments will be published in audio and digital form, as well as in printed books. This recent flurry of activity leaves only the Ndali team to report in…

“Ndali team are also making final checks,” said Mahali. “While they meet with the language committee, and prepare for linguistic checks, they have even already had a read-through.” Two pastors from the Ndali community in bordering Malawi joined the team and twelve local reviewers for that read-through.

For fifteen days, they took turns reading and discussing the text. “We had many long discussions,” said Ndali translator Imani Mtafya. “We even met on Saturdays to be sure we covered everything. Also, the presence of these pastors from Malawi created a harmony towards receiving and using the Ndali Scriptures by all.”

One pastor told the team he won’t even wait for the printed Ndali New Testament to arrive. “Because we have these copies,” he said, “I am going to use them for teaching and preaching right now.” Another reviewer said, “I have heard many Ndali speakers complaining about difficulties in understanding God’s Word written in Chichewa [a nearby dominant language]. This translation will help them understand what God says.”

Others who took part in the Ndali New Testament read-through gave many thanks to all who have played a role in making the work of translation possible. Together, all the Mbeya Cluster and project teams across Tanzania pray to God for these communities as they prepare to soon receive and celebrate their New Testaments.

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.