Translation of the new testament of the Christian Bible into Seyeyi language, which started in January 2013, is expected to be completed next year, 2021, Botswana Bible society has confirmed.
Speaking in Maun on Tuesday this week, translation manager, Portia Baloyi explained that the costly project has suffered delays because they had to formulate the language first.
“As you may be well aware, Seyeyi was not a written language so we had to start from there, teach people how to write and read the language, we had to find the right words and spelling for objects and ensure we use the right meanings. Before everything we had to agree on what we are going to call God in Seyeyi for instance!” explained Baloyi.
She further explained that it has to be appreciated that to capture the right meaning they had to translate directly from Greek and Hebrew Bibles.
Another challenge faced by the translation team, Baloyi stated was that, “Unfortunately some people including tribal leaders (dikgosi) viewed this project as political and with a motive to divide people along tribal lines. To them the project was not about the Bible but all about tribal politics.”
She said that in fact some tribal leaders did not accept their project at all and have refused to welcome them in their communities.
However the team worked so hard over the years to make people appreciate their work and motive, which she explained a nothing else but to give people access to the Bible through languages they speak and understand best.
“Language is very important because every person was created in their own language so it is important for them to hear the scriptures in their own language and be able to understand it as well. God understand all languages,” Baloyi added.
It is her contention that outside Maun, this project has been highly welcomed and communities in surrounding villages have waited for it with bated breath.
” They are saying we are taking too long to deliver the Bible,” Baloyi said.
The Bible society has translated the Holy book into other vernacular languages including Kalanga, Senaro, Sekgakagadi and other versions of Setswana languages.
Currently a Herero language Bible version that was translated by Namibia Bible Society is on sale in their bookshops as well, but it is yet to be translated into Herero dialect spoken in Botswana.