Map (Simbiti language community)

Population: 113,000

Altitude: 1135 metres (3725 feet)

Alternate names: Kisimbiti

Published Scripture: Luke, Jonah

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The Simbiti: Suba is a title that generally applies to all of the people in the Suba-Simbiti language area but is not the name of a particular language and dialect spoken in Tanzania.  In this area of Tanzania, the language spoken is similar to the Suba language of Kenya, but distinctly different.  Simbiti is the dialect among this cluster of closely-related dialects that is best understood by all of the others.  And Simbiti is the specific dialect being used for Bible translation, thus the reason for combining Suba (all-inclusive of the people in this specific area) and Simbiti (the chosen language dialect) for the Suba-Simbiti title. 

These six distinct ethnic groups and dialects are: Hacha, Kine, Kiroba, Surwa, Sweta, and Simbiti.

Location within Country:  The Simbiti live in the Mara Region in the northwestern part of Tanzania.  The language area lies just south and west of the Luo area and very close to the Kenyan border.

Geography and Climate:  The western edge of the Simbiti language area lies on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria.  The eastern part of the area is at a higher elevation and somewhat mountainous.

The Simbiti’s population includes six closely-related ethnic groups: Hacha (4,200), Kine (14,500), Kiroba (30,000), Surwa (4,200), Sweta (12,800), and Simbiti (33,0000). Economic Status:  The majority of the Simbiti population depends on fishing and/or farming for food and income.  Common crops are cassava, sorghum, and corn.  

Language Information:  There are a number of dialects that are closely-related, making the analysis of language issues and Scripture needs complicated.  However, there has been consensus that the specific Simbiti language is understood by people of the other dialects, and Simbiti Scripture will be adequate to meet the needs there. 

Religion:  The largest Christian denomination is Roman Catholic, but there are also Anglican, Mennonite, and various Pentecostal churches.  There is one village which is predominantly Muslim, but there are few Muslims outside of this one village.  Traditional religion beliefs and practices, such as using witch doctors to help appease spirits, are commonly mixed with Christian beliefs. 

> Browse our Simbiti project stories