History

In May 1979, the members of FEMEC (Federation of Evangelical Missions and Churches of Cameroon) were having their General Assembly in Mokolo, a town in the Far North of Cameroon. After the meeting, they decided to go and take the Lord’s Supper in Tourou a village situated 36Km from Mokolo. During the sermon, the local pastor (who had planted the church there only recently) gave a talk based on his village experience. A village of animists known to be controlled by fetish men. The pastor asked the Tourou people to change their ways of living and to confide in Christ “who is the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Secondly, he invited the visitors to commit themselves to pray for evangelism, because, as he put it, “beyond the Hedi of Tourou there are hundreds of other tribes who have not yet received the word of God in Cameroon.” At the end of the service, a young man, Mr Ndawaka Pierre, raised his hand and said this: “Help us to have the word of God translated in our own language”. For many of those who were present, this request for help went unnoticed; except for visiting Dr. Njock Emmanuel, (a linguist who had studied Cameroonian languages and, as a Christian, had accepted the Great Commission of Jesus in Mathew 28: 19-20 as a duty having the highest priority). He was touched by the young man’s request. Dr. Njock Emmanuel initiated two actions: he traveled all over the country and discovered that Cameroon had 265 living languages, whereas only 22 communities had the Bible, the New Testament, or a portion of the Bible translated in their language. He met church leaders and Christian organizations to discuss the possibility of creating a national organization for Bible translation. That organization would act as the arm of the church to make the Word of God available to each Cameroonian in his heart language or his mother tongue. In 1981, members of SIL, Cameroon Bible Society and some church leaders worked with Dr. Njock to create CABTA. Official documents were submitted to the administration in 1982, and the authorization was finally given on October 26, 1987. At this time, CABTAL had completed the translation of the New Testament in two languages, namely Koonzime and Ejagham. Later on the Cameroon Bible Translation Association, CABTA was changed to Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy by a decision of the General Assembly and Board. This was done because its activities were not limited to Bible Translation only.

CABTAL later got involved in ten language projects, four of which were nearing completion of the New Testament (Ngiemboon, Kom, Mundani and Nomaande) while six were on course (Meta’, Bakossi, Kenyang, Denya, Oku, Lamnso). By the year 2000, CABTAL was planning to undertake activities in 5 new communities: Mbembe, Bakoko, Aghem, Tunen, and Pinyin. CABTAL was also committed, together with SIL and Wycliffe, to Vision 2025. This dream only came true in 2003 when CABTAL changed the way projects were done.

CABTAL through its strategic plans developed over the years, got involved in many more projects between 2003 and 2014 than it had done in the past eighteen years of its existence. CABTAL gradually grew into a formidable force for development in Cameroon using the mother tongue to build the capacities of different community leaders to bring transformation. From 32 projects in 2013 to 84 projects in 2017, CABTAL has become a household name in Cameroon through linguistics, Bible translation, basic literacy and literacy for development (functional literacy).Top of Form