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Pan Holds On To Mother Tongue Through Bible Translation

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In order not to allow Pan language go extinct, the Pan-speaking natives of Quanpan local government council of Plateau have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust Fund NBTT for a complete translation of the Holy Bible in Pan Language. ACHOR ABIMAJE writes

In order to hold on to the local language, the people of Pan are ready to translate the Holy Bible into their mother tongue. The ceremony to mark the commencement of this process was held at the Nigerian Union of Teachers’ hall in Doemak, Quanpan Local governmemt council of Plateau state recently.

Speaking at the event the Steering Committee Chairman of the Pan language Bible Translation project Rev Damuol Livinus, said the translation of the Bible in Pan Language  is long  overdue  because many Pan people had hopes to get the Bible translated in their own language, but failed to do so due to the lack of commitment and the fear of difference in dialects within the Pan language group which this time around would hopefully be overcome.

“We are here gathered for the signing of the MoU to kick-start the translation of the Bible into Pan language. Many have tried in various forms which yielded no fruits in this context.”

He plead with all and sundry within Pan community to give their maximum support and contribution in whatever form to make this project a reality.

The Pan speaking natives of Plateau State are the descendants of Daffiar and his wife Nadee from the Hill top Kopfyar countryside in Qua’an Pan Local Government Area.

“The Pan tribe comprising the occupants of Bwall, Doemak, Jagatnoeng(Dokan Kasuwa), Kwa, Kwalla, Kwang and Jepjan(Namu) of Qua’an Pan LGA. The 2006 National Population Census of Nigeria are next only to the Berom in number in Plateau State.”

Also speaking at the occasion Rev Father Vincent Deyong said it is a known fact that there is over 6 billion people in the world today and out of this over one-third of the entire people on earth 2 billion people are Christian and this number include the Pan people who are practicing the Christian faith.

He added that this translation effort by reasoning is coming rather late, but it is better late than never stressing that this new-age of post-apostolic effort (Bible Translation) is hereby received with gratitude.

According to him, the NBTT in Jos invited about Four Priests who are Pan speaking natives for a workshop at their head office in Jos, adding that they saw a lot of things that pose  a serious challenge to them and after that workshop they decided to take the challenge by ensuring that they  work relentlessly for their people to also have a Bible in their own language.

“We understand that the NBTT did not even know anything about the Pan people in the state, we were guided on what to do resulting to the signing of this MoU.”

He further stressed “As a Priest of the Catholic Church I can say that the actualisation of this project will help in redeepening the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and all the communication barriers will surely be overcome not just in terms or religious teaching but other educative engagements amongst our people.”

Rev Deyong said  this is the first of it’s kind in Pan land. There is no any collective effort like this as a people, adding that it is  just few individuals that have made attempts by studying on certain aspect of the life of the Pan  people and the development of their language.

In his address the executive secretary  NBTT Dr Yakubu Ada La’ah represented by Rev Justine Tarsoo Gaku said NBTT collaborates with various languages in Nigeria in the development of mother tongues, safeguarding it from extinction and the translating of the Bible in the language of those people.

According to him it is the responsibility of the  NBTT to appoint a mother tongue Project Coodinator, the person appointed by Pan Executive Committee on the translation of the Holy Bible will provide leadership and supervision needed for the successful completion of the project under the terms of this agreement in close collaboration with the committee and NBTT.

“NBTT will provide training for the project coordinator, translators, literacy supervisors, reviewers and others who are involved in the project through courses, workshops and seminars.”

“NBTT will provide consultation services ranging from the services of linguist, the service of literacy, translation, scripture engagement, arts, development work.”

He pointed out that the Executive Director of Literacy and Language Development or any delegation, shall visit the project from time to time for training or technical assistance saying NBTT shall help in all the technical aspect and the overall printing of the Bible when the need arises.

“The Scriptural Engagement Unit will also help with audio, video and other media recording. While on completion of the work, NBTT will arrange for the publication with special printers called ‘Print on demand’ that can print the exact copies of Bible they want within some few minutes after the Pan Committee sent in the support required to  buy just paper and ink.”

The NBTT secretary also said  it is the responsibility of the Pan people  to appoint 12 to 15 language translators and ensure they take care of the projects Coordinator and translators in terms of feeding, movement and so on.

“The Pan Language Development and Bible Translation Project, will provide a decent office accommodation. They shall appoint a competent computer operator and shall not enter into any partnership or agreement with any organisation with similar objectives to NBTT without prior discussion and proper written consent from NBTT.

According to him, where they desire to disengage with NBTT and engage another organisation inline with the paragraph above, shall take responsibility of paying NBTT of all her expenses incurred,  starting from the time of translation to the time of disengagement. And such expenses shall be prescribed by NBTT and the final termination shall be executed by NBTT after it has acknowledged the receipts  of payments.”

In the same vein the Long Pan and chairman Quanpan traditional council HRH Nda Emmanuel Dabang(JP) represented by the Long Kwa, HRH Miskagam Ignatius Didel in his address said the issue of Bible translation is indeed long overdue, while commending the efforts of those whom God has touched their hearts to come up with the project.

“We have just signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and we the Pan nation we have to sit up to actualising the translation of the Holy Bible in Pan language, because the project is very important to us as a people. “

“I call on all Pan sons and daughters both at home and in the diaspora, to ensure commitment in cash and in kind for the actualisation of this wonderful project because if you go to other communities they have long passed this stage we are in and they are using the translated Bible in their mother tongue. An example is the Igbos’, Taroh, Goemai, Berom and so on.”

The Royal Father also said he welcomed this very important project to Pan land  while  thanking the Executive Director of NBTT for this development, and assuring him of hundred percent support to the project by the Pan Traditional Council whether financially or otherwise.

“I urge the Committee to work in earnest so that Pan people will be known all over the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of  Qua’an Pan Local Government  Hon Isaac Kwallu represented by former leader of Qua’an Pan Legislative Arm, Hon Maanret Dagogot in his remark said, “This is a wonderful development in Qua’an Pan LGA it is a project that is dear to our hearts and a society that is morally sound such society will move forward and you can not take Christianity from the promotion of morals.”

According to him, the essence of the translation of the entire Bible in Pan language, is to teach morals and in propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to  the level of understanding of the  people is highly commendable.

He said, right from the existence of Daffiar and Nadee on the Kopfyar hill and the subsequent movement of their children taken to the various settlements under the hill, they left a legacy worthy of emulation which is unity. And perhaps this project is one of those that will stand the test of time in uniting all Pan sons and daughters who are both children of one person.

The chairman further said “This is the path to greatness for us as a people and the local government will remain supportive of this development in hundred fold and we shall do everything possible to support this.”

Highlight of the event was the signing of the MoU which consisted of the Chairman of the Pan Language Development and Bible Translation Project Committee Rev Damoul Livinus, the Chairman of Pan Development Mr Mark Dachi and the Paramount Ruler of Pan Nation HRH Nda Emmanuel Dabang (JP) the Long Pan represented by the Long Kwa HRH Miskagam Ignatius Didel as well as the Executive Director of NBTT Dr Yakubu La’ah represented by Rev Justine Gaku.

The MoU was shown to the congregation gathered at the event and he said “We don’t want to prevent you people from having the Bible in Pan language. By God’s grace you people will have your New Testament in two years starting from this MoU,” the chairman of Pan language development told the cheering crowd.

After the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Executive Director Dr La’ah said the Pan nation have now become an automatic member of the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (NBTT). He inaugurated the Executive Committee and  handover of the signed MoU to the Paramount Ruler HRH Long Pan and then the Long Pan equally handed over to the committee for onward working activities for the actualisation of the projects.

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