Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Wayei Bible translation is nigh

Bible Society of Botswana says it is working on the finishing touches of the Wayei version of the Bible.

The society has consulted various stakeholders including Bayei tribesmen, most of who reside in the Okavango sub-region for assistance with the dialect. 

All BSB past projects, translation manager Portia Baloyi said, were sponsored by an international donor- the Lutheran Bible Translators agency as well as the different church denominations in Botswana.

In their quest to help translate the Holy book into the various indigenous languages spoken in Botswana, BSB regrets it often faces hostility from some tribal leaders who have a perception that the society fuels tribalism. 

Briefing the Maun circuit of minister’s fraternal recently on how far they have gone with the Wayei Bible translation project which took off in 2013, Baloyi shared that the resentment is an indication that there is still a lack of understanding by some people within the society.

“Some even think BSB are out to push political agendas in favour of their friends holding political office while in actual fact the intention is to help promote languages as they have always believed that every person was built in their respective dialect which they should understand better and later pass on to the future generation,” she said.

She noted that in recent years they successfully translated and compiled new testaments of the Kalanga, Senaro and Kweedum (different types of Sesarwa languages spoken in D’Kar and Shakawe respectively) all of which have been verified by experts. 

The other development, Baloyi says, is that their Namibian counterparts, the Namibian Bible Society, have also completed a translated the Herero Bible which was meant to be of great benefit to the Baherero of both Namibia and Botswana.

Hoewever, this was never the case because soon after the bible was completed and distributed. A concerned group of Baherero in Botswana lodged complaints stating that they wanted the bible to be further translated in a way that they would understand better since the one compiled in Namibia was not what they expected. 

“This now became one of our big challenges because we had thought the two bible societies had achieved, more so that prior consultations were made beforehand. We are yet to establish how the language differs because we had thought we had come with a final product which they would embrace. Whatever decision we take will be informed by the investigations which we are yet to undertake,” said Baloyi. 

She further noted that cross-border translations have proven not to be the easiest of their projects, adding that whenever there is a translation need, they always carry out comprehensiveresearches first because of the different meanings and understanding of some words. 

She stated also that because of the many challenges they always come across, they have learnt to be extra careful at all times. 

“We will never allow ourselves to be used for political mileage by ignorant people who should be assisting us to do right by their people. What they might not know is that translation is on its own time consuming and very expensive considering the little resources we have. So we always refuse to fall on their trap because they are the same people who would turn around and put the blame on us,” she said.

BSB expects the bible’s New Testament to be complete by year 2021, thus paving way for the commencement of the Old Testament translation.

“We remain hopeful that this will be one of our biggest achievements considering we had through our different committees injected so much effort in this very project. It is worth noting that we don’t just translate for the fun of it. We do so as a way of allowing people to understand the naturalness of their languages.


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