"Look, this old man cannot speak Macua"

Few days after arriving at my Mission in Itoculo, Mozambique, I decided to have a little chat with some kids one afternoon after lunch. The kids were anxiously waiting under the trees outside our community for their afternoon lessons with Helena Ferreira (a Portuguese volunteer). I asked each of the kids to mention their names after I had introduced myself. But since I could not speak the local language- Macua, I asked the oldest among them to be the translator. However, a small kid about four years old said something and the whole group burst out laughing. I was curious to know what provoked the laughter so I asked my translator to explain. The reason for their laughter was amazing. The small kid said, “Look, this old man cannot speak Macua”. I was surprised at the statement but after reflecting for sometimes, I said the boy was right. I am above thirty years and yet could not speak a language that even a two year old boy could speak fluently. These kids could not comprehend why an African like me, with a skin colour similar to theirs could not understand or speak Macua. This experience, however, reminded me of a huge task ahead of me- to learn and speak the local language.


My encounter with these kids also reminded me of a discussion I had with my immediate former Superior General Jean-Paul Hoch in Saverne, France in 2015. I asked him to tell me the secret of a successful missionary life. One of the indispensable elements he mentioned was the learning of the local language. One cannot underestimate the importance and the necessity of local language in the evangelization process.

Effective evangelization necessarily implies the rooting of the Gospel message into the culture of the people in such a way that Christ becomes the principle that guides decisions and transforms the lives
of people. To understand the “soul” or the core values of a people, one must speak and understand their mode of communication. As such, language is the gateway to a comprehensive understanding of the worldview of a people. Without it we cannot render the Gospel more meaningful and more practical to people. Any attempt to evangelize people in a foreign language without taking into consideration their local language is an attempt to evangelize people outside their culture; it is like soaking a stone in water, the water does not penetrate through the stone.

Learning a new language can be a humbling experience but could also be very frustrating; sometimes, we are stretched to the limits of our capabilities. Learning a new language needs a lot of time, patience and courage. Kindly pray for me so that in the shortest possible time, “this old man” can understand, speak and evangelise in Macua. Counting on your prayers and support. Remain Blessed.
Vincent Ntrie-Akpabi C.S.Sp.

Comentários

Raul Viana disse…
Ayo! Olavula emakhuwa ti orica ni orera!!!
Anónimo disse…
Além de velho, é um teólogo de altíssima categoria (como se pode ver pela T-Shirt), mas não fala Macua... iiiiiiiiii!!! Coragem, que o macua vem aos poucos. Damas

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