By Olusegun Obisanya
The Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN) has set a world record in its translation of the Bible to local language as the faith-based non-profit organisation announced that it has achieved such feat that had not been achieved before now by any member of the United Bible Societies (UBS).
United Bible Societies is a world fellowship of 146 National Bible Societies working to place God’s Word in the hearts and hands of the people they serve across 200 countries and territories.
The General Secretary/CEO, BSN, Pastor Samuel Sanusi disclosed this during a news conference in Lagos yesterday announcing the completion and dedication of the complete Okun Bible in November 2022.
Early last year, the organisation announced completion of the Okun New Testament Bible, and less than a year down the line, BSN has announced the completion of the translation of same Bible. A feat the BSN chief noted was made possible by the unwavering commitment in cash and kind of the sons of the soil to the translation.
BSN CEO said, “To the glory of God, I wish to inform you that we have achieved another significant milestone. Today, I am glad to inform you that we have successfully completed the translation of the full Bible in Okun Language and will be dedicated on November 3, 2022, at The Apostolic Church Nigeria, Agirigbon, opposite Atiku Square, Ayetoro- Gbede, Kogi State. The Okun speakers are joyfully looking forward to the date of the dedication.”
He further stated, “Let me add here that with the completion of the Okun Bible, The Bible Society of Nigeria has set a new global record in Bible translation as we were able to complete the translation in a record time of five years. With this, we have broken the global record of Bible translation which we previously held for completing the translation of the Igala Common Language Bible in 11 years.”
According to him, the umbrella body of the world Bible Societies, the United Bible Societies (UBS) had set a target of 12 years for the completion of any translation project which has not been achieved by any country except The Bible Society of Nigeria.
He added that Okun language is spoken in Kogi, Kwara and Ekiti States.
“Speakers of the language referred to as the Okun people are one of the Yoruba major ethnic groups. So, Okun is a dialect of the Yoruba Language. The Okun people are currently spread across Kabba-Bunu, Yagba-West, Yagba-East, Mopa-Moro, Ìjùmú and Lokoja Local Government Areas. They have kith and kin in Kwara, Ondo and Ekiti States,” Sanusi said.
Basking in the euphoria of the success of the translation, the BSN General Secretary, who appreciated individuals and organisations that donated towards the project posited, “The journey to publish the Okun Bible began when one of the senior staff members of The Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN) expressed his desire for the Okun people to have, even if it was only, the book of Romans in their mother tongue.
“He planned to sponsor the translation of the book, but as God would have it, another individual, with whom the former had no prior discussion, also expressed the desire that the complete Bible in Okun be published for the use of the Okun people.
“A stakeholders meeting was organised to discuss the project. Over 40 people attended the first meeting on the Okun Bible translation held on 19th September 2015 at First Baptist Church Ayetoro-Gbede. On 10th May 2016, the Okun Christian Community and The Bible Society of Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
“That same day, a new office of the Okun Bible Language Translation Project in Ayetoro-Gbede, Kogi State was also dedicated. It was built by one of the individuals who supported the project while another illustrious son of Okun paid the translators salaries for the period.”
Pst Sanusi identified three translators, Rev. Charles Aina; Pastor Samuel Olupinyo; and Elder Emmanuel David Olorunleke, who were engaged for the project which commenced in July 2016. While translation Consultants included the late Rev. Zachariah Bum; Dr Olalekan Bamidele (Translation Officer-in-training); Dr Samma Essosolim; and Professor Yetunde Ofulue.
He also used the medium to announce upcoming dedication of 77 Bible stories in Nigerian sign language.
The BSN boss said, “Permit me to also use this medium to inform you that on November 26, 2022, we shall be dedicating additional 77 Chronological Bible Stories in the Nigerian Sign Language for the deaf community in Nigeria. This will take place at the Bible Guest House Research and Development Centre, Ibadan. With this, we have competed a total of 222 Chronological Bible Stories.”