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Mara Cluster

Bird's eye viewLake Victoria is Mara Region's western border.
“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” Acts 13:49

The Place

The Mara Region lies in the Northwest of Tanzania, and is the northernmost area of the country. Lake Victoria creates Mara’s western edge, the Kenyan border is the northern boundary, and Serengeti National Park wraps around the southern and eastern sides.

The Need

Around 1.4 million people live in Mara Region, which makes it the most densely populated area of Tanzania with the fewest churches. A wide variety of denominations comprise the churches which are present, and a majority of people call themselves Christians. But without the Word in the heart languages of these people, it is still traditional religion which claims people’s loyalties.

The Cluster

Mara Cluster language work began in 2005 with developing partnership with local churches. The local church leaders responded very positively when they first heard of the plan to do language survey in order to better understand the situation in the region, with the intent of Scripture translation in the future. The survey, which was done in 2005-2006, found that there are at least 14 languages in the Mara Region. Twelve of these languages are of the Bantu language family, and so are similar to one another. The two non-Bantu languages both have at least the New Testament already translated. The survey showed that several of the Bantu languages are very closely related and will likely be able to use one translation, and that another language already has a good New Testament translation.

The Project

mara_office_group_photo_2013-09-19_custom Mara Cluster team - 2013  (Musoma)

Linguistic work began in earnest in 2006. The Mara Cluster team worked with Tanzanians from eight languages to develop alphabets and writing systems for their languages. An already-existing translation project for the Zinza language joined the Mara Cluster in 2009, and later that year all nine translation teams began translating the Gospel of Luke. Literacy work is in the early stages of teaching people to read and write their own languages using the newly-developed writing systems, and a Scripture Use department is developing materials and activities aimed to encourage people in the language communities to engage with Scripture in the various languages.


Take a look at what is happening in this exciting work:

Find out more about our language projects in the Mara Cluster Project.


For more information visit the following pages:

Feb 28, 2018

Jonah inspires evangelism in Kabwa Christians

Written by Michiel L.

Since the team's "listening workshops" with Scriptures on solar audio players, Kabwa families listening at home now find neighbours - even those of other major religions - curious to know what they are hearing. In a recent follow-up event, one group chose to listen to the book of Jonah in Kabwa. As they began to discuss God's message in the story, one point was very clear to them...

Jul 17, 2017

A sweet return among the Zinza.

Written by Tim G.

A return visit to a local village proved to be a real encouragement to the translation project as the Zinza community celebrated the premier showing of the Jesus Film in their own Zinza language.

Mar 15, 2017

Local ministers study Kabwa Scriptures with solar audio

Written by Jeff Robinson

image: Kabwa church leaders listen to Scripture

In the Kabwa language area, over forty church leaders came together for a special ministry workshop. After translators completed Scripture portions in Kabwa, the team made audio recordings, and loaded them on solar-powered audio players. Now those leaders were learning to use the players in mother-tongue Bible study...

Mar 15, 2017

Branded or glued? A translation challenge...

Written by Ben Gerth

image: Recording Jonah in Jita

As the Jita language translation team continues to complete books of their New Testament, they now find themselves grappling with the imagery in Revelation. English Bibles use one word to describe the ‘seals’ on both a scroll and on the foreheads of people. But in Jita, there is not a single word which can be used that way. So the team launched into research...

Jan 30, 2017

JESUS Film Audition Turns Into Language Workshop

Written by Kenny G

As the Ikoma team prepares to record voices for the JESUS film, they held an “actors’ workshop” for people interested in playing a role. Some who attended were still learning to read Ikoma, and were able to work with local literacy specialists. Many were excited to discuss the whole Ikoma project. Throughout the day, they asked questions, raised challenges, and shared ideas...

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