THE POWER OF MOTHER-TONGUE SCRIPTURES FEATURED AT THE 12TH KBML
The 12th Kwame Bediako Memorial Lecture (KBML) was delivered on Wednesday, 8th July 2020 by Rev. Dr. Solomon Sule-Saa, the Institute’s Dean of Continuing Education and Director of the Centre for Interfaith Studies and Engagement in Africa (CISEA).
Speaking on the theme, The Power of Mother-Tongue Scriptures: Changing Perceptions of Christianity among the Dagomba and the Konkomba as a Consequence of their Mother-Tongue Scriptures, Dr. Sule-Saa paid tribute to the late Prof. Bediako and others for their trail-blazing scholarly works in making a case for the significance of the Mother-Tongue scripture for the advancement of Christianity among Africans, a theological position of which the experience of the Dagomba and Konkomba Christians in Ghana exemplify.
The lecture revealed how the successive and collaborative works of foreign and local missionaries, indigenes, the Catholic and Protestant Churches, the Assemblies of God Church and the Bible Society of Ghana among others, culminated in the publication of the Dagbani version of the New Testament first in 1974 and the full Bible in 2013. The translation of the Bible into Likpakpaaln, however, materialized in 1962 through the initiative of the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT).
Armed with a myriad of testimonies, Dr. Sule-Saa argued that the translation of the Bible into Dagbani and Likpakpaaln positively transformed the perception and reception of the Dagomba and Konkomba towards Christianity resulting in the conversion of many to Christianity. The mother-tongue Bible served as a tool for gospel and culture engagement among the Dagomba and Konkomba, and facilitated local ownership of the Christian faith. A Konkomba Christian leader was quoted in the lecture to have testified that:
“The Bible is now central in our lives and determines how we should live. At first it was, ‘They say” but now it is, ‘the Bible says.’ Christians are now more committed and this has led to an increase in the number of Christians and Churches. Prior to the translation of the Likpakpaaln Bible, Christianity was seen as a religion for whites or literates at the given timemmunity, tch ring the live streamYoutube channel of ACI through s 12th heirs too and
tianity among Africans. .”
Rev. Dr. Sule-Saa intimated that socio-economic impact of the Dagbani and Likpakpaaln mother-tongue Bible was driven by multi-faceted missionary strategies such as evangelism, Christian education in schools and churches, healthcare, literacy and theological education. He noted also that the use of mother tongue scriptures equipped the people to interrogate their social, cultural and intellectual lives.
He thus concluded:
“Bible translation is authentic Christian mission in that God desires to reveal Himself to every people group within their culture. When translation is successfully carried out it leads to transformation of the people and their culture. The recipients of the translation begin to appropriate the message and their perception of the Christian faith also begins to change. Translation sheds the alien-ness of the Christian faith and thereby enables people groups to own the Christian faith as it finds a home within their culture.”
The annual Kwame Bediako Memorial Lecture (KBML) was instituted in honour of the memory and the exceptional Christian scholarship of the founding Rector of the Akrofi-Christaller Institute, the late Rev. Prof. Kwame Bediako. Over the past years, highly reputable scholars have had the opportunity to deliver on relevant topics to a gathering of scholars, religious leaders, policy makers and the general public.
However, due to the social restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s KBML was held through a virtual platform. The lecture was delivered through the ACI website, YouTube channel and other social media platforms with over a hundred viewers during the live stream. The good thing is that this online delivery offered the opportunity to reach out to a wider global community, many of whom otherwise would not have been able to make it to the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Accra, the usual venue for the lecture.
The video of the lecture is still available on the ACI YouTube channel for interested persons to watch: https://youtu.be/Ybpc9HWzNOY.