Tonga

Language: Tonga
People Group: baTonga
People Group Size: 200,000
Location: Binga, Zimbabwe
Lifestyle: Subsistence farming, fishing and lake activities (e.g. tourism and house-boating)

Translation Time-frame: 2019-2021
Completed in Phase 164 Oral narratives, Bible translation of Mark
Translation Phase: 2
Translation Goals: TBC
Source Languages: TBC
Managing Partners: The Word for the World

The Tonga people live across the entire northern part of Zimbabwe (Matabeleland, in the Zambezi Valley) from the Victoria Falls to Mana Pools, which is all along the banks of Lake Kariba and in the beautiful hilly, forested areas south of the lake. The Tonga are known as 'Basilwizi', which means ‘those of the river,’ literally meaning ‘the people who reside in the Zambezi Valley’. Many live next to the river and lake Kariba and have a strong connection with the water. When the Zambezi was dammed up in 1950s, the Tonga lost a lot of land and were displaced across Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Also due to the economic climate in Zimbabwe, many communities reside on opposite sides of the lake or across borders.

A council of local Tonga churches has taken ownership of the Bible Translation project, with 11 Tonga pastors eager to translate the Scriptures into their heart language. When tested in the community, the feedback has been extremely enthusiastic.

We praise God that phase 1 of translation wound up in 2018, with all translation goals met. Plans are in progress for a dedication event to celebrate the completion of phase 1, which brought the first translated Scriptures to the Tonga.  They now have 64 oral narratives and the book of Mark both translated and printed. 3,000 copies were generously printed by “Bibles for Africa”, which arrived in early 2019 and were distributed.

Psalm 23:1-6

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