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Adventures at the Siphuthi Scripture Dedication

Adventures at the Siphuthi Scripture Dedication


We stood at the pavilion overlooking a soccer pitch, but could look further out over the village and to the mountains beyond. This was Lesotho and we had just flown in on a military helicopter, rising with the low slopes of the highland mountains, along the Orange River, to Quthing. Here we joined with pastors, traditional leaders, a representative of King Letsie III, the Siphuthi translation team and other guests. It was a celebration of the Word translated into the heart language of the Baphuthi people.

Siphuthi is one of numerous ‘endangered’ languages in the world. According to a survey of the Endangered Languages Project, “Politically, Phuthi has no institutional status at all, in either Lesotho or South Africa. It is not recognized as a language of any sort (official, national, regional, local) in either country's national census.”

The significance of this day, with the completion of the first phase of the Siphuthi Bible translation, a collaboration between Wycliffe South Africa, the Bible Society of Lesotho, and the local community and churches, cannot be overstated. And, as the first public playing of Genesis in Siphuthi was amplified over the public address system, and the people responded with joy and praise singing, it was as if the message was going out to the whole world to witness history in the making.

Everyone present received an MP3 player or micro SD card and they lined up to fetch their new treasure. An MP3 player went with the king’s representative who promised to deliver it to the king. This moment was also a trigger in the minds of the Baphuthi people for Siphuthi to be recognised as a language in Lesotho’s constitution. It was a special day. I am so thankful to have been present.

On our way home, this time by car, we ran into the stand-still traffic of a political rally of the newly formed Reformation for Prosperity party. It was the joyous dawning of a new day politically for Lesotho. A week later, Lesotho elected this new political party to take a lead in the country. Determined to bring corruption and greed to an end, and to set Lesotho on a new economic trajectory, I couldn’t help but think that these two events were linked. As we continue to pray for the Baphuthi people and for their transformation by the Word of God, so may this be a day of new beginnings for all the peoples of Lesotho. May the Holy One of Israel be in their midst!

By Alan Webster

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