Ghana | Anufo (2007)
Chereponi, Ghana – Feb. 17, 2007
On this day, for the first time, God’s Word from the New Testament became available to the Anufo people of Northern Ghana, Benin and Togo in their own language. About 137,000 people now have access to the Scriptures in their heart language.
Mary and Tom Holman, Lutheran Bible Translator (LBT) associate missionaries, working under the auspices of the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT) and Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT), devoted 25 years of their lives to Bible translation and related literacy activities. “God made us to do this,” Mary Holman said. “We love the work of Bible translation.”
“We believe everyone deserves to hear and read the Word of God in the language of their hearts,” said Marshall Gillam, then Executive Director of Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT). “We recruit, train, educate, equip and help support missionaries like the Holmans with that goal in mind.”
“The dedication of our national translators, coupled with the prayers, emotional, and financial support of congregations and individuals in the U.S., sustained us through this process,” Tom said. Throngs of people celebrated at the dedication ceremony, dancing, singing Christian songs with traditional melodies, listening to speeches and hearing the Scriptures read in Anufo. The dedication was conducted by clergymen from a number of denominations who serve the Anufo people and other groups in Northern Ghana.
Literacy efforts in Anufo
While they were working with nationals to translate the Bible, the Holmans were also instrumental in spearheading efforts to teach thousands of Anufo speakers how to read and write their language. They used the newly-developed writing system to make language primers, which help native speakers sound out and spell their language. They conducted language workshops, teaching Anufo speakers how to read and write their language and training them how to teach others to read and write.
As a result, thousands of people are now literate. In addition, the primers and materials are being used by other agencies to promote education and development.
“Early on, one individual finished the literacy program,” Mary Holman said. “He was able to get a job as a security officer with a local development agency. People began to see that literacy has benefits!”
Ghana is a West African country about the size of Oregon, with a population of more than 20 million. Subsistence farming is the primary occupation in the semi-arid northern region of the country.