It was all joy as the Bulsas’ welcomed their complete Bible first in Sandema in the Upper East region and in the capital town of Ghana – Accra on February 4 and 12 respectively. Bulsas’ are in the Upper East region of Ghana and speak the Buli language. It has taken over 40 years of perseverance and collaboration by various national and international personnel assigned to the project, as well as support from the Chiefs and people of the Bulsa traditional area to bring this long awaited desire to reality.
The Buli Bible is the 14th full Bible dedicated by GILLBT. GILLBT’s involvement in the Buli Translation and Literacy project began in 1978 when Ian and Claire Gray moved to Sandema. The Grays’ produced the initial Buli primer series and began New Testament translation including the gospels of John and Matthew with Samson Amoak (of blessed memory).
When the Grays’ had to return to Ireland, GILLBT assigned Paul and Jean Dancy to take over. With the help of Peter Wangara, Jean revised and expanded the primer series. Paul drafted most of the remaining New Testament with Presbyterian Catechist, Collins Abagme. He also worked with Frans Kroeger and Peter Wangara to produce a Buli dictionary.
Todd and Karla Poulter joined the project and took over when the Dancys’ returned to UK. They worked with Peter Wangara to expand the phonology and did an analysis of Buli tone. Todd developed a project plan that included working with the Local Council of Churches to form a translation committee for the project and bringing Rev. Albert Adekaldu in to coordinate Bible translation for the project.
When the Poulters’ left, GILLBT asked Bob and Nancy Schaefer to move to Sandema and serve the Buli New Testament translation in their capacity as Translation Consultants. GILLBT also appointed Peter Wangara as the Literacy Coordinator. Rev. Adekaldu completed the translation of the New Testament with Bob Schaefer as consultant. Nancy assisted with testing the translation, and did linguistic and anthropological research still needed to meet the prerequisites for translation.
The Buli New Testament was completed in 1995 and dedicated in 1996. Five-Thousand copies of the first edition sold out quickly and an additional 5000 were printed in 2000. These also sold out so that by 2005 there were no print copies in stock. However, the Buli translation team produced the audio New Testament with Hosanna/FCBH. They also worked with Great Commission to produce the Buli Jesus Film. They also produced “God’s Story” in Buli.
At the time of the dedication, GILLBT took over the administration of the Buli Literacy project, appointing supervisors, printing primers, and building a literacy office. A full set of literacy materials have been produced for the GILLBT adult literacy program among the Bulsas’ along with materials for teaching Buli in the schools.
Also in 1995, the Local Council of Churches directed that the translation of the OT be undertaken and asked Rev Adekaldu to continue to serve as exegete and coordinator for the project. They appointed Rev. Daniel Ayarik as a second translator in 2000. Pastor Kobina George also contributed to the translation of the book of Psalms.
GILLBT funded the Buli Literacy Project. The Local Council of Churches have provided support for the translation project in launching it, hosting dedications, Bible days, and reviewers/committee meetings. The translators have been able to do the translation because they are supported by their own congregations, other congregations in the US, and individuals who were friends of the Schaefers.
In 2016, the Buli Translation team completed the full Buli Bible.
GILLBT’s work in the Buli language have not only provided Bulsas’ with the word of God, but also contributed to the literature in Ghanaian languages. This is the major linguistic work done so far in the Buli language.
In Sandema, speaking on the theme for the celebration: ‘The word of God, the best salvation gift to the Bulsas and the whole world’, Chairman for the Upper Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Emanuel Ntami indicated that the word of God could be likened to the biggest pharmacy shop. It has an antidote to all kinds of ailments. He entreated the Bulsas’ to use the word of God in their mother tongue to cure the spiritual, social and economic maladies in their society. Quoting from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, he said the only disease we are permitted to transmit to others is the word of God. “Spread the word so vigorously until it causes a major pandemic” he added.
The GILLBT Executive Director Dr Paul Opoku-Mensah in his speech at the Accra dedication charged all gathered to recognize and repay the hard work and sacrifices made by various translators over a number of years to ensure the Bulsa people hear God speak their language.
In a speech read on behalf of the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rt. Rev. Prof Cephas Omenyo who was the Special Guest of Honour at the ceremony in Accra, entreated Bulsas’ to apply the word of God they have now in their heart language for positive impact in their daily activities and communities.