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4543063042_6fdfde32e4_zZulu Chritians must be happy about the recently commissioned Zulu bible translation, but so are literary folks like us.

Since the bible is so much about stories, poetry, ideas, literary form, and the politics of language, a Zulu bible is very much a literary triumph.

Here is what is pretty amazing about the project. The translation will be done directly from the biblical languages—Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.

Translating directly from the original languages of the bible into Zulu is a huge deal since most bibles in African languages are translated from English and other non-biblical languages.

A translation on such a scale is bound to bring in a lot of good literary energy and a wealth of new words, style, and ideas into Zulu.

These kinds of projects take time and cost a lot of money. Bishop Mlungisi Pius Dlungwane, who broke the news on  BBC Radio, says it will take at least ten years to complete. He also seemed quite pleased with the financial contributions so far and highlighted the 50,000 dollar donation made by the Jacob Zuma foundation

The Kenyan author, Ngugi wa Thiongo, has always advocated the translation of canonical texts into African languages. A Zulu bible sounds like something that will make him quite pleased.

What we need now is a Yoruba translation of Shakespeare and a Wolof Translation of Aristotle.

Listen to Bishop Mlungisi Pius Dlungwane on BBC Radio

 

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Image by Ryk Neethling via Flickr.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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