Oct 26, 2005

History

Written by Chris G

Mama and babyThis child will be able to grow up reading
in his own language. (Zinza, Tanzania)
After the government eradicated the tsetse fly in the 1940s, other peoples began to migrate into the lakeside area of the Zinza. Thus the Zinza now share their area with the Sukuma, Haya, Kerewe and Jita.

The Zinza fought many battles with the neighboring ethnic groups, much like the wars of the Old Testament. Their biggest rival were the Sukuma, the largest ethnic group in Tanzania, who traditionally live south and east of the Zinza.

During Tanzania’s colonization, European Catholic priests, mostly German, were sent to the Zinza area. The Zinza were assigned to the Catholics and the Sukuma people (the dominant tribe of northern Tanzania) were assigned to the African Inland Mission, now called the African Inland Church of Tanzania (AIC).

In the 1920’s, the Catholics did some translation work with a mixed orthography (alphabet) they had developed. They produced some Biblical texts, and a catechism. These were not widely used since the orthography was not easily understandable, but they were filed in the Vatican archives.

In the 1980’s, the African Inland Mission (previously assigned to work amongst the Sukuma people just south and east of the Zinza) invited us to help reach out to the Zinza and to do a Bible translation. In 1987, a sociolinguistic survey was conducted. The following conclusions were drawn from the survey data:

  1. The Zinza could benefit greatly from having Scriptures available to them in their language.
  2. This need cannot be adequately met by existing Scriptures in any of the related languages (i.e. Swahili) covered by this survey.
  3. The fact that Zinza continues to be the language of preference of the people in their day-to-day living indicates that they would respond very positively to literacy programs in Zinza as well as in Swahili.

Two Wycliffe families were assigned to the task of beginning Bible translation work amongst the Zinza people. The project was started in 1991.

 
 
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