Jehovah’s Witnesses move to rescue Nigerian languages

Posted by News Express | 13 January 2013 | 11,373 times

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In Nigeria’s urban areas, the trend is for people to speak English rather than their own native languages, which they regard as being less sophisticated. This has led to fears that the country’s languages may become extinct sooner than later.

However, in a move that could reverse or at worst slow down this threat, Jehovah’s Witnesses have started creating local-language congregations across major Nigerian cities. Investigations by News Express showed that, in what is a clear departure from the past, Igbo Language congregations have recently been created in the country’s former capital, Lagos. Before this move, the practice was to create congregations in English and in Yoruba, the language of the people of the area.

“We have instructions from our world headquarters in the USA, as passed down through our Nigeria Branch Office, to form congregations in Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Efik, Ijaw, Edo and any other Nigerian language in whom there are reasonable numbers of speakers,” a source said.   

The source disclosed that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not regard any language or race as being superior to the other but that all men are equal before God.

Further justifying the decision to create local-language congregations in the urban areas, the source insisted that the Bible encourages the sustenance of indigenous languages. He referred to what happened during Pentecost in 33 CE, saying: “The Bible account in the book of Acts shows that people from other parts of the world, including Africa, were present at Pentecost. For these people to have travelled all the way to Jerusalem for religious purposes means that they no doubt could understand the Jewish language. Despite that, however, God caused Jesus Christ’s apostles to speak to the people in their various native languages.”

A major Christian religious organisation with over 7,500,000 members in some 111,719 congregations, Jehovah’s Witnesses are active in 239 lands and have over 330,000 members in Nigeria. Their Bible-based literature appears in almost 600 languages from across the world.

•Photo: A recent gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ota, South-West Nigeria.

Source: News Express

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