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.
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.
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.
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 4, 2012
After completing the initial draft of the book of Ruth, Mussa, one of the Ikoma translators, went out to a village to read it aloud to see what the community thought of it. He had called ahead and asked a man he knew who lived in that village to prepare a group of ten people to be ready to listen and provide feedback on the translation. But when he arrived, a significantly larger group, comprised of some Christians and some non-Christians, was waiting, curious and eager to take part! Read more...
May 16, 2012
The dedication for the gospel of Luke in Ikizu was originally scheduled for August 2011. The books were in boxes in my office and we were ready to dedicate them so that we could start selling them, and let all the Ikizu people have access to God's Word in their language! Read more...
May 9, 2012
We had a book-making workshop for local authors from seven languages, all at one time! It was an incredibly intensive event and required help from outside our office to conduct it. Three colleagues (one Austrian and two Tanzanian) from another SIL office in the southern part of the country came to help us. Read more...
May 9, 2012
We weren't sure what to expect. The Kabwa language group is the smallest of the nine groups the Mara Cluster Project is working on Bible translation with. And they are also one of the poorest. So, in planning for a Scripture dedication event, we were worried that they would struggle to accomplish the full Tanzanian-style celebration that they were hoping for. Read more...