The Key that Unlocked Scripture
United Republic of Tanzania
Daniel, Kuria Evangelist
Sunday after church I sat in Evangelist Daniel's house eating small dried fish (think sardines) with ugali (boiled maize flour). Daniel is from the Kuria people group. He said, "I was trying to read the Kuria New Testament like I read Swahili. I was unable to read the scriptures at all. But now that I've been taught how to read the Kuria writing system, I can understand it completely! Now I can read God's Word in my language!"
Daniel pulled out his Kuria New Testament as he explained this good news to me. The Kuria have had a New Testament translation for more than ten years, but it has not been used very much because few know how to read it.
The Bible Society of Tanzania decided that the orthography (writing system) should be investigated before they embarked on the translation of the Old Testament . In our last orthography workshop we discovered that the Kuria writing system they already have is actually brilliant! It doesn't need any changes. What the Kuria do need, however, are trained teachers to teach them how to use it. This is a real-life example of how literacy can unlock the scriptures.
Tim is a colleague who sat down with his gardener the other day. The gardener speaks Kuria but has not been able to read the Kuria New Testament. Tim explained how the Kuria writing system works, and in just a few minutes he was able to read and the scriptures that have been at his fingertips for years, but they've been inaccessible for lack of basic literacy training.
If these two men were able to understand how to read Kuria in only a few moments, imagine what a full literacy program could do. The Kuria people living in Tanzania number almost half a million people speakers.