The Tera people of Gombe State have translated and launched the New Testament of the Bible into the Tera Language, known as Mewar Alqawarang, to enhance a better understanding of the scripture and build a formidable faith in Christ.
To ensure that the language does not die and its people unite, the Tera people have been seeking ways of enhancing the use of the language, through collaborative efforts with experts and partners, such as the Luke project, which has the primary object of literacy development.
Some of the efforts have paid off with the translation and launch of the New Testament Bible into the Tera Language.
The Special Guest of Honour at the Tera New Testament Bible Launch was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, who encouraged the Tera people to use their language as a tool for their unity to attain great heights.
“Some determine to build a tower that would reach to God and God scattering their language, thereby ending their project. And then when God sought to bring back His people and re-unite them, He restored the language. It therefore means that anyone who steals your language, has stolen your unity. And you need unity to make progress. And it was the lack of unity as on account of lack of common language that destroyed the Tower of Babbel. So, if the Tera Language were to go into extinction, I tell you it will affect the foundation of the unity of the Tera People, which is that God-Given Language,” Mr. Dogara said.
The Deputy Governor of Gombe State, Dr. Charles Iliya, who represented Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, said the translation and use of the New Testament Tera Bible was equally a means of spreading the culture of the Tera people.
“And that’s what makes this occasion very important. Important in the sense that, not only are you introducing to those, who before now would not be able to know the Word of God, you are also spreading culture,” Dr, Charles Iliya said.
The Tera Bible Translation Project says the task before them is still not just to complete the rest of the Bible, but to also embark on teaching people how to use the translated word at home and the community, for evangelism, spiritual growth through discipleship and impact in the community.
Speaking during the dedication and launch of the New Testament in Lubo, Yamaltu-Deba Local Government of the state, the Chairman of the Tera Language Development And Bible Translation Project, Mr. Kalagar Lubo, said the project also intended to use the scripture in Tera Language to widen the readers vocabulary and fluency in reading and writing the language
Mr. Lubo said 50% of the proceeds of the launching would go to a special fund for printing of the Old Testament, while the remaining 50% would be shared between literacy and the Old Testament Translation project.
According to him, the Bible Translation Project would establish literary classes in each Tera Village to teach the language effectively and also join hands with the Ministry of Education and Yamaltu-Deba Local Government to facilitate the teaching of Tera language in the Primary and Secondary Schools within the local government.
Mr. Lubo said the project intended to join hands with Yamaltu Forum, to speed up work on production of a dictionary in Tera language.
“The project will join hands with the Ministry of Education and Yamaltu-Deba Local Government to facilitate the teaching of Tera language in the Primary and Secondary Schools within the local government in line with the mother tongue policy of the federal government pursuit of the above the existing primas in Tera-Book 1-4 as well as the Readings and Writings Tera produced by the project and published by Yamaltu-Froum will be adopted as first hand materials for this objective; The project will join hands with Yamaltu-Forum, to speed up its outstanding work on production of a dictionary in Tera language under Auspices of the Tera language development and standardization council;
The project intends by God’s grace to dedicate about 50% of the proceeds of this launching to special fund for printing of the Old Testament which will cost Ten million Naira (₦10,000,000.00) while 50% will be shared between literacy and Old Testament Translation Rigours,” said Mr. Lubo.
Based on their tradition and legend, the Tera people, also known as the Nyimatli, originated and migrated from Yemen.
Today, they are located in the North Eastern part of Nigeria predominantly in Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State, but spread across the state in places like Akko, Gombe, Kwami and Funakaye Local Government areas.
They can also be found in Wuyo, Fikayel, Kurba Gayi and Balbiya in Bayo Local Government Area, as well as Kwaya, in Koya-kusar Local Government Area, all in Borno state.
A number of Tera settlements can also be found in the Plateau and Kaduna States.