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The Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in the south of Africa, populated by over fourteen million people. Some 85% of the population identify as Christian, with 62% attending church regularly.
Language in Zimbabwe
Sixteen official languages are spoken, the top three being English, Shona and Ndebele. Around two million Zimbabweans are native Ndebele speakers. The Ndebele language was developed from the Zulu language, and did not have a written form until missionary William Sykes, circa 1860, reduced the language to script. Following this Sykes translated the Gospel according to Matthew in 1884 and later the entire New Testament.
The whole Bible was subsequently translated into Ndebele, but over time the need for a better edition became apparent, not least because the extant New Testament translations were based on the Critical Greek Text, leaving many words or passages either missing or mistranslated. Thus it was that, under God, in 1996 a new Ndebele Bible translation project was commenced by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS) in conjunction with the TBS. The translation team in Zimbabwe, which included several native Ndebele translators, were surprised by the extent of the changes required. As well as minor adjustments to the text, whole passages had to be translated afresh. This required much prayer and research, using many other resources including the Greek and Hebrew texts, other Ndebele and local Bibles, and the Bible commentaries by Matthew Henry and John Gill. For difficult translation questions the advice of the TBS was sought, and the final decision was given by the FPCS.
TBS Ndebele Bible
The publication of an accurate and faithful Ndebele translation based on the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Texts finally took place in 2012. The reception to the new Bible has been extremely positive, and several printings have taken place, with many tens of thousands of copies already distributed.