Press Release: September 25, 2013

“School of the Wicked” by Rev. Kierien Ekpang

The meeting with the clan head of Bubuabong, Obudu, went well.  However, the meeting did not take place as early as we had agreed, because the clan head was in court this morning.

Bishop Aju came from Ogoja and stayed with us until the clan head was ready to listen to us.  At his palace, alongside one of his chiefs, Isaac, it was agreed that another meeting should be held on Thursday, the 26th of this month, where all the chiefs of the twelve villages of Bebuabong will be in attendance.

Since we arrived Obudu something has been bothering me — the name that was given to the Lutheran Primary school standing at the center of Obudu town.

Most of those I met, including the Paramount Ruler of Obudu, told me that St. Stephen Lutheran Primary School, Obudu, was called ‘School Biban’.  The term means ‘School of the Wicked’.  I have been wondering why a school would be branded as such.

Today, during our meeting with the clan head, the meaning was revealed. Chief Isaac, one of the chiefs who was in attendance at the meeting, told us that the school was called that way because, while teachers in other schools in Obudu were using the local language to teach their pupils, teachers of  St Stephen Lutheran school were using only English language as the means of instruction.

Chief Isaac confessed to me that he and most of his colleagues  did not do well in school because of the language barrier.  According to him, all the teachers in the school were from Akwa Ibom State, and as a result they could not use the local language to teach.  So that was how St Stephen Lutheran School came to be addressed ‘School Biban’.

Yes, according to them, only a wicked school would relegate their heart language to such a background.

If this story is true, then, this is the time for the Bette people to show to the world how much they love their heart language by supporting the language development/Bible translation project in the Bette language.

What Christian churches need to also learn from the above is that the only way for the Gospel message to gain roots in the heart of any people group is to pass on the message (whether in church or at school) in the heart language of the people.

If the Lutheran church had paid attention to the above, I think she would have avoided the unpleasant name that her school received — ‘School Biban’.


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