Worth more than many apples

April 18, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe


One of my favourite parts of my new job is the fact that I get to hear reports of what is happening in Tanzania’s Dodoma, Katavi and Mbeya Regions as our colleagues are working alongside 20 language communities. While a lot of what happens in our project offices is often routine – analysing phonemes or grammatical constructions,¬†drafting and checking Scripture passages, filing finance records, maintaining IT networks etc – it is always exciting to hear of how the work is impacting the lives of individuals and communities as they engage with materials in their local language.

Recently I heard the following account, told by the Team Leader for the Mbeya project, Pastor Mwaikokesya: Read the rest of this entry →

The histories we tell

March 17, 2014 in Africa, Culture, Mark, Tanzania

Learning in class

Growing up in England and going through the English school system, I enjoyed (and endured) many hours of learning about history. In secondary school I remember learning that some historical sources were biased, and so had to be treated with care, while others were unbiased, and so were supposed to be more reliable. Since then I have come to realise that all history is necessarily told from a particular perspective, and there is no such thing as a neutral / unbiased / objective historical account.

Topics that I remember learning about in school include World Wars 1 and 2, the Roman occupation of Britain 2,000 years ago and the English civil war in the 17th century. There are other parts of British history that I never remember even being mentioned (although I cannot claim to have paid attention to every word that my teachers said…), for example British colonial occupations around the world, the American war of independence, and the complex history of Ireland. To this day the only understanding I have of past Scottish struggles for local autonomy from England is what I gained from watching Braveheart a few years ago. These topics do not seem to make it on to the history syllabus during the first 11 years of English school education. Read the rest of this entry →

Mbeya Planning Meetings

March 4, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Msafiri and Flavian

After spending a week in Dar es Salaam and a week in Dodoma, we flew to Mbeya for planning and review meetings with the team serving 13 language communities throughout Mbeya, Iringa and Njombe regions. This project, with the potential to impact 2.5 million speakers of the 13 languages, was started in 2003 and currently has around 70 staff working both in Mbeya town and in the surrounding communities.

Several of the translation teams are moving forward fast and approaching the completion of the New Testament in their languages, hopefully in the next 3 years. At the same time, some of the other languages have recently begun the process of developing writing systems, and are hoping to start translating the first Scripture portions in the next year or two. Read the rest of this entry →

First SIL Tanzania Flight

February 22, 2014 in Africa, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

First SIL Tanzania Flight

Tanzania is a large country, and travelling can be a major challenge. For example, going from the main city of Dar es Salaam to Mpanda, where we were living last year, took an exhausting 30 hours of driving over paved and dirt roads. Earlier this month I had the privilege of being a passenger on the first operational flight of a new (to us) plane which should allow easier travel for our colleagues working with SIL around the country, and even allow access to some areas that are almost impossible to reach by road.

The plane itself is a small Cessna 206, with room for a pilot and 5 passengers (or 4 passengers and their luggage!) We were piloted by Steve, who has experience of flying in various countries around the world, and had been looking forward to this first flight for a long time! Steve, an SIL/JAARS pilot, seconded to MAF under a partnership between SIL and MAF Tanzania, will continue to operate the plane, based out of the town of Mbeya in southwest Tanzania.

Our flight took two and a half hours from Dodoma to Mbeya, a journey that would have taken probably 10-12 hours by road. Apart from arriving refreshed, we also enjoyed some great views along the way! Read the rest of this entry →

Dodoma Planning Meetings

February 18, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Discussing literacy initiatives

Two weeks ago I joined our staff in Dodoma, in central Tanzania, as they reviewed their current activities with the Alagwa, Burunge, Mbugwe, Rangi and Sandawe language communities and planned for next year. I lived in Dodoma in 2004-05, so it was encouraging for me to see how the team has grown and made a huge amount of progress in the last 8 years. The Burunge have almost finished drafting the entire New Testament, and will hopefully publish it in the next couple of years.

I was encouraged to see the commitment and dedication of the Dodoma team as they work to translate the Scriptures and to see transformation in the lives of individuals and communities in the region. It was also exciting to hear stories of the enthusiasm of people in the rural areas to receive materials in their local language, and good to hear the ideas of the team for making these materials more easily accessible to more people. Read the rest of this entry →