Preface from the printed Nafaanra dictionary regarding early literacy work and Christian influence in the region:
The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to Banda via the Basel Presbyterian Church of Germany missionary, Rev. Buchena. It was 1935, and legend says he worked his way from Sampa, playing his flute and preaching the Gospel in English with interpretation into Twi. His highwater mark was Banda Ahenkro, where he established both a Church and a School. Both still stand.
In the 1950’s Mr. Omani of Sarbie knew that Nafaanra could be written and began to establish an alphabet.
And in the 1960’s a young Nafana man and his wife returned from working in cocoa farms in the south. Miraculously healed of leprosy, and wonderfully saved, Yeboah and Fatima were compelled to ‘come home’ to show God’s love and mercy to their own people.
In 1972 a young family, sponsored by GILLBT, came to live here in Banda. They told the Paramount Chief, Tolee Kofi Dwuru, that they wanted to study the Nafaanra language, and to teach the Nafana to read and write their own language. Even in his old age Tolee Kofi Dwuru thought this was a good thing, and gave them permission. Others around the chief thought this was only a guise of the foreigners to do something far more sinister. Time proved the chief’s wisdom. By 1975 there was an alphabet, and even the Gospel of Mark printed in Nafaanra, English, and Twi. In 1977 a small literacy program was in place.
At the height of the translation process, 5 dedicated young men worked tirelessly to complete the Nafaanra New Testament. From the first day that Dean and Carol Jordan, with daughter Lisa, arrived in Banda, AttahKwasi was enjoined to ‘teach them his language’. Soon James Anane, and then Samuel Tsito (with his wife AmmaTwumwaah) came. Later George Ababio, and Emmanuel Dwirah of Dompofie completed the team of 5 men. In 1985 the Nafaanra New Testament was dedicated with great pomp and ceremony in Banda.
In 1976 the idea of an adult literacy programme was hatched to prepare the people in reading Nafaanra. The first Primers were developed and Anane tested the first literature in Nafaanra with African Faith Church adults class.
From this humble beginning the programme spread over to the nearby communities with over 80 learners receiving certificates of literacy at Banda Ahenkro in 1978. We acknowledge the following officers who came after Anane to continue the literacy drive to date. These are: Christopher Dapaah (now Director of Resource Link Foundation), Simon Manu, Jones Diawuo, Alex Ababioh, Vasco Manje, Yaw Bediako, Roy Kyeremeh, Elija Emmanuel and Alice Miyayah, Mensah Listowell and Job Ababio joined the team as a Scripture in Use Specialist and God’s Story, respectively, doubling with the O.T. translation and checking.
Though the Jordans moved back to America, the Translation Team continued to work on the Old Testament. The Nafana wanted the whole Bible. And after doing other things in the states and in Niger, the Jordans rejoined the team in the early 2000’s, to see the project to completion. Today we see the fruition of it all.