Lake Victoria is Mara Region's western border.
“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” Acts 13:49
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.
Mara Cluster team - 2013
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:
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...
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...
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...
“I was doing some work around the house, and needed materials,” began Michiel (a Translation Advisor). At a local hardware shop, two employees expressed desire to read Scripture in their languages. “They wanted the Gospel of Luke,” Michiel said. “We have it in Kabwa for one man, but the other speaks Jita — we ran out of those a while ago.” A few weeks later came a surprise…
Samson (a Literacy team member) called a contact in the Ikizu language community with bad news: a workshop was being canceled because of the team's limited budget. "These workshops are a great encouragement for our reading groups," Samson explained. "But wait," the Ikizu man said. "I have a solution. Listen..."