There’s something you need to know about Tanzanians. To them, Bob Marley is the sun and reggae music is the stars. You’ll see Marley likenessess on posters, bajajis, T-shirts and a million other places throughout Dar, and you’ll hear “One Love” or “No Woman, No Cry” blasted over many a loudspeaker if you live here long enough.
There is a man named Danny who works in Bible translation. He attends my church and his sons go to HOPAC. He is a tall Canadian who wears the latest Western styles and looks rather out of place among the rest of the missionary community. He’s the most gifted speaker I’ve heard in this hemisphere, and he is able to captivate every single disinterested, too-cool-for-school HOPAC student, even the ones who don’t pretend to be Christians. He is half Jamaican. One day in chapel he came in to talk to the students about the basics of Bible translation. He called up HOPAC students from all over Africa to read portions of the bible translated into their local languages. The last thing he did was pull up a portion of the gospel of John that had been translated into Jamaican. He talked about how this translation was controversial since Jamaican isn’t technically a language. As he began to read, the glazed eyes of the student body sharpened, and a murmur could be heard that soon rose to a roaring cheer. The students went nuts.
This same man goes down the street from his house every once in awhile to get his hair cut at a local barber shop. Somehow, the barber and his cronies ascertained that Danny can speak in the Jamaican dialect, so they begged Danny to teach them how to speak “Jamaican,” saying he would cut his hair for free if he did. Danny’s only written material in Jamaican is the New Testament Bible, so he goes in regularly and he reads these Tanzanian men the gospel of John….in Jamaican.
This story astounds me.