During the last Ogoja Luke Partnership workshop, I worked with the Ekpari translation team. It was difficult because the team did not do all that needed to be done before this workshop. As a result, instead of spending the first week checking drafts, the team spent the first week drafting and team checking. It was not until the second week that they had something ready for consultant check. We spent the first couple of days, looking at the songs of Mary and Zachariah (Luke 1:46-56; 1:68-79). During the last week of the workshop we were looking at Luke 4 together and we came to 4:25. The passage read: “Once during the time of Elijah there was no rain for three and a half years, and people everywhere were starving. There were many widows in Israel.” The expression “… there was no rain for three and a half years” was rendered in Ekpari as “there was drought for three and a half years”. I tried to explain to the team the need to re-express it, because drought may not necessarily mean that there are no rains at all for three and a half years. It was not easy to convince one of the team members for a long time, and because he could not convince me either, we keep talking until he told me, “Rev, you people are trying to make it sound as a child’s speech”. After saying this he left us for a while because he was angry. However, when he came back, he said to me, “Rev, I did not know that translation is so difficult, I thought it is something you just write down what you like. You people are mature, patient and hard working. I admire all of you doing this work, may God help me to be like you.” Then I told him, “All of us need to grow.” Working with such people is difficult, but necessary for our growth.
We praise God that this issue was resolved and that the Ekpari translation team were able to make reasonable progress during the workshop. In addition, one of them sang the song of Mary and Zachariah in their local melody which was recorded to be used in Ekpari churches.
Rev. Linus Otronyi is one of LBT’s International Associates. He serves among the Ogoja people of Nigeria.