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Journal of Translation 3(1)
Mwalimu Nyerere engages his people: Scripture translation in Swahili verse
Noss, Philip A.
Julius Nyerere, the former president of Tanzania, was renowned for his political leadership. He was also an accomplished and dedicated poet, teacher, and translator. Having translated Shakespeare into his beloved Swahili language before becoming president, he took up Bible translation in his retirement. His goal was not simply to communicate his message faithfully and clearly, as any Bible translator should do, but also to engage his audience in a direct and personal way. Instead of the usual prose of the Gospels and Acts, he adopted the ancient but still popular poetic form of the tenzi as the most effective means of conveying his message. He used vocabulary that was familiar to his audience from the Arabic Islamic culture in which they live and political terminology that they associated with him while he was their national leader. Through the creative use of poetry, the poet-teacher-translator sought to engage his readers and listeners and impress upon them the relevance of the Message of Good News for their lives today.
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