Reaching Further with Swahili

One of SMI’s projects in Africa is a training program for church leaders called Light of Africa Training. Most of the Light of Africa training takes place in English, however, as our work expanded, requests for LoA training and materials in other languages increased. In an effort to reach non-English speakers, SMI began to translate materials into other languages. As Swahili is a common language in East Africa with millions speaking it, we embarked on a Swahili translation.

This particular translation project proved a bit challenging because there are 14 dialects of Swahili spoken over an area several countries wide. A Swahili version was needed that would be understandable and user-friendly with the majority of Swahili speakers. After much deliberation and work, the Swahili translation was recently finished and ready to be field tested in the different regions.

A true test for any good Swahili translation is in Tanzania where Swahili is prevalent and most pure. In Tanzania we discovered two things. Not only was our Swahili translation standing strong, but our particular type of training and materials was very unique and desirable in the culture. The Swahili people loved it and they began to train others to use it. One pastor in Dar es Salaam now wants to take it to every zone of Tanzania because he says that it is desperately needed by the Swahili peoples throughout his country.

This Swahili translation has also opened more doors for SMI work in other countries, and it is helping us to reach lower educated and illiterate Swahili speakers who can now be taught orally in Swahili.