ACOTBA-SUBO stands for Association Congolaise pour la Traduction de la Bible et l’Alphabetisation-Sukia Boyinga. In English that means Congolese Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (A.C.O.T.B.A.) — Conquer Ignorance (SU.BO.). It is a Wycliffe partner organization in this region of DR Congo.
The ACOTBA-SUBO team–made up of linguists, Bible translators, literacy and education specialists, staff who specialize in helping communities use translated scriptures well, and office/administration staff–is entirely Congolese. Many of the staff are facilitating Bible translation work in their own mother tongues, but some also provide guidance to translation projects in other languages in northwestern DR Congo.
DR Congo is about one third of the size of the land area of the 48 contiguous states of the USA (double the size of South Africa), and has more than 200 living languages.
Life has not been easy for the people from this region. The revolution which began with the removal of Mobutu Sese Seko, who led the country from 1965, and replaced him with Laurent Kabilia in 1997 continued from then until the signing of the peace accords in 2003. It hit this area quite hard because Mobutu’s family was from the Equateur province. The war itself is considered to be the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.
Everyone we talked to had a story about how one or both of these conflicts personally impacted them in some way.
Many of the people of this large country have been impacted by the different conflicts that have happened here. But, it’s safe to say that northwestern DR Congo has not faced the same kind of on-going violence that is still a part of the every day lives of many people in eastern DR Congo. We were about 1200 miles from that area which gets much of the media’s attention right now.
I traveled with Maralee, who is a friend that I used to work with in Orlando, Florida. Since the time we last worked together, she’s become fluent in French, so she served as my French interpreter for the trip and helped me with interviewing, too.
When we arrived at the ACOTBA-SUBO office they had an official welcome ceremony with official introductions, speeches, a short sermon and singing.
ACOTBA-SUBO was formed by four churches in Gemena that recognized the need to translate the Bible into the local languages of the area. From their commitment and resources and help from the Wycliffe Global Alliance and its member and partner organizations, the organization was born. Through the cooperation of those two groups, the organization continues in its mission.
In many parts of Africa relationships are described metaphorically in familial terms. During the introductions, it was shared that the four churches were like the mother of ACOTBA-SUBO, and Wycliffe was like their father. They saw our visit as their father sending his sisters to encourage them. They welcomed us as their aunties. That made me smile.
Everywhere we went during our week in DR Congo we heard people singing. Here’s a taste of some of the singing we enjoyed when we arrived.