Don Commends Jehovah Witnesses (JW) on Urhobo, Pidgin Bible Translation
…Says breakthrough vital for knowledge, research
Dr. Ruth Oji, an applied linguist and senior lecturer at the institute of humanities, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, has applauded the Jehovah Witnesses (JW) organisation over its translation of the Holy Bible into African indigenous languages including Urhobo and Pidgin.
She said the move was ground breaking and should be commended as it offers multiple benefits including significantly aiding knowledge sharing, social harmony and research.
Till date, Jehovah Witnesses has the Holy Bible translated in over 280 languages in line with its global efforts on translation and making the Bible accessible to more people all over the world, according to Mr. Jeffrey Winder, a member of its Governing Body.
On Sunday February 12, JW launched its latest translations of the new living translation Bible into Urhobo and Pidgin languages.
Dr Oji noted that, “I see it as a blessing. People tend to learn and understand better when they do so in the language of their hearts. And this is a great breakthrough, I would say and much kudos to Jehovah Witness organisation.”
Highlighting the benefits, the don pointed out that, “It could help them in their discipling making work because people get to be discipled in the language of their hearts. It helps for the dissemination of knowledge, and particularly for these translations to be available in local languages.
“Secondly, it’s also helping researchers like me to investigate properly and explore a lot of options. For example, I’m currently working on a very big book project Pragmatics of African Varieties of English. And so the pidgin West Africa is so much interesting to me because now that there’s a website dedicated to it, I’d love to explore this phenomenon.”
She explained further: “Even in my day to day interactions with people I find that if I’m to communicate effectively and empathetically with them, I have to come down to their level sometimes in order for me to get the kind of information I need for my research.
And so I can say for sure that if they have been able to come up with a Pidgin West African version of the Bible, or a website, it definitely would go a great way or a long way to help people to be acquainted with the message of God as it is in the Bible.
Especially because social harmony and peace is critical to the society. So if people can connect with you to know what is written, then definitely they will be able to apply what they learned.”
Commenting on the translation processes, Dr Oji insisted that integrity remains a key attribute of JW and everything it does.
“I’ve seen a group of people who are very much interested in integrity, and that’s why before anything is published, they have to vet and make sure that these things are really the way they are. They are represented accurately. And that’s one mantra I’ve seen resonating with the Jehovah’s Witness organization from time to time and that’s what has given me this confidence. I’m making me so elated because this is an area have interest in and to say that they’ve given me kind of free resources. I’m so happy to work with them. I do not doubt the integrity for one day, ” she stated.
In his own remarks, Mr. Jama Onwubuariri, Media Representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nigeria, said, “Pidgin English is spoken by about 75 million people in Nigeria alone asides other speakers in other West African countries, as well as parts of Europe and America.
“For us as Jehovah’s Witnesses, It’s very important that speakers of this pidgin language are able to read the Bible in a language that they understand without the interferences of foreign languages. The idea was to produce a Pidgin translation that can speak to the heart of English Pidgin speakers in different countries of West and Central Africa.”
-He added that there are five million speakers of Urhobo in Nigeria.
“There are 5 million speakers of this language in Nigeria, and the language is very dynamic and has changed over time. This translation of the Bible into the verbal language has taken into consideration the dynamism of this language, and the fact that it changes over time and is made easy for those who currently are able to speak it to read and understand it very easy,” he noted.
He revealed that the translators are members of JW and have decided to remain anonymous, adding that the Bible whether physical or virtual copies will be available for free on the website jw.org and also on the app, the JW Library app.
“All translations done by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is purely on the basis of voluntary contribution. Whatever anyone’s heart moved him to do is what they do and in fact publications and any other relevant productions are given out without charge. These are available on our website jw.org and also on our app, the JW Library app. You can also find it online at JW online library.”
Though figures on cost of translation are not available due to the voluntary nature of the project, data on JW global website however says during the 2022 Service year, Jehovah Witnesses spent $242million on caring for special pioneers, missionaries and circuit overseers in their field service assignment.
It also states that the first Urhobo Congregation in Nigeria was formed in 1933 while the first Publication in Urhobo was in 1968. The Urhobo Translation Team was formed in 2014 while the Pidgin team was established in 2017.