In a bid to strengthen the Christian faith in Rivers/Bayelsa States, the Bible Society of Nigeria has expressed its readiness to foster ties with the general public to enable them translate the Bible into the various local languages, so as to spread the word of God into the nook and crannies of the States.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hon. Roseline Apawari Uranta gave the assurance during the 2023 Bible Society of Nigeria, Rivers/ Bayelsa area Life Members Conference/ Fund Raising to build a Bible house.
According to her, the Bible Society is playing a leading role in the area of translating the Bible into various Nigerian local languages, saying at present, out of over 500 languages in the country, the Bible Society has successfully inaugurated 28 language translated Bibles, over 60 language New Testament Bible translated, and about 100 portions in Nigerian languages.
She noted that the translation of the Bible into the local languages also promotes the culture and traditions, as language is key to any people or community.
Speaking about the need to raise funds to build a Bible house, she said it is a noble one as it will enable them accommodate all their activities, a warehouse to store Bibles, guest rooms, offices and halls, while urging the Christian community to come to their aid to enable them actualize the dream.
Dr. Eustace Bellgam, the chairman of the occasion in his speech called on the Ministry of Education to come up with a local policy where these local languages can be taught in primary schools, saying if that is done the understanding of the languages would become a secondary issue and also make the translation easier.
His words: our challenge is knowing the languages, most persons cannot count 1, 2, 3 in their dialect , most languages can’t count to 100 but outside Rivers State,we have other languages that have names for their numerals up to 50, 100 and above. Tell me a single language in Rivers State here that has the names of numerals up to 100, we can hardly count in our dialect.
While lamenting the failed local languages in the State , he said Rivers State has 28 languages of which 5 out of the 28 languages have gone into extinction and if care is not taken many more will still go into extinction.
He said working with the Bible Society means reviving the languages that have gone into extinction so that people could study the Bible in their own languages.
Elder Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, Area Chairman/Chief host, said the conference is a ground where they educate and enlighten the Christian community on what they do and their continued efforts to remain a helping hand to support the church.
Elder Ayo-Tamuno said since the inception of the Rivers/Bayelsa Area, more than 35 years ago, they have not gotten a befitting accommodation, noting that an average BSN area office ought to have a warehouse to accommodate a large stock of the Bible and other related books, guest rooms, offices, conference halls among others.
Highlighting some of their achievements, he said the Okrika Audio Bible recording was successfully completed last year and awaiting it final production, the Kalabari audio will follow suit later, as the Kalabari Bible is undergoing final review and will soon go for printing. The completion of Ogbia and Eleme language Bible-Old Testament translation has reached an advance stage, the Kolokuma Bible translation is in the process and that of Khana.