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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:

Sep 16, 2019

Children help test translated Scripture

Written by SIL Tanzania Communications

curious children-musoma
Translators recently took their draft of Mark's Gospel into six Jita villages. As they tested the Scripture with groups of volunteers, passing children grew curious. "It's not the first time," said Magesa, a Jita translator. "They were surprised to hear us reading in their language, so they came closer and sat down..."

Jul 22, 2019

"We know the work is hard - but keep going!"

Written by SIL Tanzania Communications

A busy season in several Mara Region communities has translation teams feeling freshly inspired to their work. In a Kwaya village, reviewers reported how many are enjoying reading and listening to Scriptures the team has completed. On a visit to check Matthew and Romans with the community, the Jita team kept hearing, "We know the work is hard-but keep going!" While checking eight new Ikoma Scripture portions, reviewers helped the team choose the best word for shepherd...

Mar 21, 2019

Language identity sparks new research by linguists

Written by SIL Tanzania Communications

Originally 'clustered' together with Simbiti (a related language), the 30,000 people who speak Kiroba "have such a strong group identity" that linguists have begun to investigate the need for a specially adapted translation. Their latest research study began with a week collecting Kiroba words in the village of Nyabange...

Mar 14, 2019

Scripture engagement ignited by local listening groups

Written by SIL Tanzania Communications

kabwa listening group
Community interest in Scripture translation runs high when audio copies hit the streets. Since a listening group workshop in the Ikizu language area, families and friends are listening together, spreading fresh demand for more. After a training for church leaders in the Kwaya area, one pastor played Scripture on the church's sound system so the neighbors could hear. That's drawn a lot of attention, too...

Feb 28, 2019

Adult literacy expanding quickly in Mara Region

Written by SIL Tanzania Communications

nyichoka transition literacy class
"They were very excited," said Neema (SIL Literacy team). In the Ikoma language area, Neema and a colleague had been training 19 people to teach transitional literacy classes for adults in their own language. "They promised to go and use what they learned," Neema said, "to serve their community." When the team returned just a week later, what they found happening surprised them...

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