‘Hohlih Mohziz’ New Testament of the Bible in Creole
Religious and cultural history was made today with the launching of the New Testament of the Bible in Creole. The formal presentation took place during an inspirational mass at a fitting venue, the two hundred year old St. John’s Anglican Cathedral in Belize City. The finished products, a written version and a spoken version on CD, are the result of years of commitment and hard work by the National Creole Council, and a handful of persons both local and foreign working under the Belize Creole Project. The service was attended by members of the clergy of different denominations, government officials and a wide cross-section of Belizean society. News Five was a part of history today and freelance reporter Mike Rudon has the story.
Lauren Burgess, Voice on CD
“Man God good. Today is a day of rejoicing for us; today is a day of great joy. I happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy. I neva think I mi wah live fi see the day.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
But that day did come. After nearly two decades of hard work, there is a full Creole version of the New Testament of the bible, from Matthew to Revelations. Speaking Creole is easy, but translating the bible, and doing it the right way, was another matter entirely.
Yvette Herrera, Lead Translator
“We had to get some training of course and we had to work with the original Greek. We had a Greek inter-linear bible weh word fi word with the Greek. And we had to translate from a meaning base; dah noh just words right soh. And we had consultants weh come from abroad weh dah the experts weh come check everything. We had wah couple weh mi di work with wi; dehn learn Creole and we worked along with them. We did the original drafting, dehn check it and then we go over it again and tweak it. It was a long process.”
And today Belizeans enjoyed the fruits of that long process, in an almost three hour service complete with scripture readings and songs. The emotion of those involved in the project was clear, and that passion translated to those who took part in the making of history today.
Phillip Wright, Anglican Bishop
“It does give me great pleasure to formally launch this undertaking that we’ve heard about many years, many people making the sacrifices and now we are here at this point in time. And I think it is truly a moment to give god thanks. If one could use one’s imagination, I could even see heaven smiling.”
Myrna Manzanares, National Kriol Council
“Bwai I di tell yo, my heart feel like—as a matter of fact, right now ih feel like wah burden come off of mi shoulder because soh long we di try and try and like people put wi down. But todeh I feel good. I thank god that it is finish; we got it cross.”
Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“This is a wonderful thing that all Belizeans should hold on to and love and appreciate because dah fi we language and I put my full support behind it as the Minister of Education and of course the government put ih full support behind it.”
“Aye, ih mek mi heart full because we really gone through a lot. We take wah lotta flack from the public, from different churches and soh, but we had to keep wi goal in sight.”
Silvaana Udz, National Kriol Council
“The next you ask, revise and do wah next version of the dictionary; update it. Begin, I guess, the work on the Old Testament, but that wah take commitment. And then also writer’s workshop; goh capture the story—the rich, rich story weh people have—and put it ina di spelling system weh wi got so we preserve it and use it. And in terms of the school, you hear weh Mister of Education say, dehn endorse it, dehn understand it. The structure fi then make it workable fi wah teacher dah something fi work pan next.”
“It might not be tomorrow, it might not be next year, but there will come a time when the usage will increase. As people grow more comfortable with it, I think as people hear it read, a lot of attitude I am sure will change and people will grow a lot more comfortable with it.”
“The school dehn could use it now; we got wah lot of religious instructions weh di goh on ina di class dehn. And so if the teachers dehn get wah copy of the Creole bible, I noh see nothing wrong in dehn use it fi read fi di pickney dehn because that dah something good. I mean that wah mek dehn understand better; lotta dehn noh di understand the complicated language weh di bible write ina right now. And so teachers should feel free to use it however dehn think it wah help. But it could certainly help wi society nowadays and I mi particularly happy fi hear the pastor pray just now fi di lee bwai and di lee gial dehn and the pickney dehn ina this country because that is where we really got fi focus fi make sure that we have wah future ina di country and the bible could help wi get deh faster.”
And with those endorsements from the clergy and the state, the Creole version of the New Testament is well on its way to becoming an integral part of religious life in Belize. Mike Rudon for News Five.