We have been working with two different language groups in Nigeria for about six years, one of which is Kamo, spoken by about 42,000 people in Gombe State. The Kamo people prefer to call themselves Maa, or adding the word nuba, which means ‘people’, Nuba Maa. The word nyii means ‘mouth’ or ‘language’, and they refer to their language as Nyii Maa. But they are known to the outside world as Kamo, which is a Hausa word meaning ‘catch’, given to them because they are good hunters. The members of the Kamo translation team with whom we have been working are Maryamu Danbaba, Joram Sani, Enoch Tashe, Titus Babuka, and Lot Kefas. The Kamo New Testament translation is nearly complete, and it should be going to press a little later this year.
The Kamo Chief is enthusiastic about having the language written and having the Bible in Kamo. He says it brings recognition and respect to the language and kingdom. The word fáng means something like ‘owner’ in English and is used for a number of different things in the Kamo language and in the translation, and the title of king or chief is in the Kamo language Fáng Maa, or ‘owner of Maa’. Out of appreciation for what is taking shape, Chief Nuhu Adamu sent a delegation of drummers, dancers, ‘kingmakers’ and other Kamo dignitaries to Jos, where we were working on the translation, to hold a ‘turbaning’ ceremony, where I (David) was given the title of Nunge le Nuba Maa a Amirka or ‘Ambassador [literally, ‘face’] of Kamo to America’, and Lynn was given the title of ‘Mother of Peace’. A turban in Nigerian culture is the functional equivalent of a crown, and this ceremony was also referred to in English as a coronation. Besides the turban, we were given royal vestments. This was a very special honor.