Population: 250,000

Location: Mbeya Region, Mbozi District

Religion: Christian, Traditional 

Alternate names: Ishinyiha, Shinyiha, Nyika, Nyixa, Kinyiha

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The Nyiha: The Nyiha are a large people group. A New Testament was published in 1913, but it is no longer available, nor is it easily read these days because the language has changed over the years. The Nyiha have a growing church but many also follow traditional religion. They would rejoice to have a Bible in their own language.

Geography and Climate: The land where they live is dry, flat savanna. 

Cultural Information: Traditionally weavers, iron workers, hunters, and some own cattle, goats and poultry. The Nyiha grow cash crops of maize, millet and coffee. There are some big coffee farms in the area which were operated by foreigners about 50 years ago. Some of these first coffee farmers translated agricultural books into the Nyiha language. 

Language Group Information: There are quite a few Nyiha who have higher education and see the need of having the language developed. The farmers are very excited when they hear about the project and can hardly imagine that there is help available for their mother tongue. 

People from many other people groups are now also living in the traditional Nyiha homeland.  This mix of people has encouraged even faster language change than in other parts of the country.     

There are other groups called Nyiha (or Nyika) in Rukwa Region of Tanzania and in the far north of Malawi, as well as a group of Nyika on the Zambia-Malawi border, who all originated from the Nyiha of Mbozi District, Tanzania. Their languages are now different from the one in the Mbeya-Iringa Cluster Project, but it may be possible to later adapt Scriptures from this Tanzanian Nyiha into the other Nyiha and Nyika languages. 

In order to reach out and evangelize the pockets of unreached Nyiha and to strengthen the Church a new Nyiha Bible translation is necessary. Nyiha want to read and understand the Bible in modern language that will speak to their hearts and will be able to transform individual lives and the Nyiha community as a whole. 

The Nyiha Church: The Nyiha have a one hundred-year church history. 

History: There are some big coffee farms in the area, which were operated by foreigners about 50 years ago. Some of these first coffee farmers translated agricultural books into the Nyiha language. Early missionaries translated the New Testament as well, but due to the language having changed a lot during the last 100 years, the current generation does not read or write Nyiha. The New Testament was published in 1913 and is no longer available. Several decades ago a group of Nyiha migrated to the mountains east of Sumbawanga, another south to Malawi around Kameme, and yet another group farther south to where they still live in the area around Chisenga, Malawi to Mulakatembo, Zambia. During a Nyiha dialect survey it was found that although these peoples see themselves as very much connected to Nyiha of Mbozi District, Tanzania, their language has changed enough that they will have some difficulty reading the new Scriptures now being produced in the Mbeya-Iringa Cluster Project.  There is a strong desire within these other Nyiha groups to have the Bible in their language though. The Nyiha in Kameme even have hand-written copies of the 1913 Nyiha New Testament that they still use in church!

Nyiha team: The  team has members from Baptist, EAGT and TAG churches. The team is made up of Kassim M., Damas M., Wilhelm M. as translators and Aggrey N. as Literacy/SU coordinator.

Browse our stories from the Nyiha project