Translation of Bahai scripture shows respect for human rights in Botswana - Mogae
The publication of Dithapelo Tsa Bahai and Mafoko a a subilweng books of Bahai Faith is being done in an atmosphere of respect for fundamental human rights and freedom of individuals, including the right to worship.
Officially launching the two books in Gaborone on Tuesday, President Festus Mogae said freedom of religion is one of the rights entrenched in the Constitution of Botswana.
Mogae said Dithapelo tsa Bahai and Mofoko a a Subilweng are a milestone and a manifestation of the steady growth of Bahai Faith in Botswana and underlines the importance of the universal character of spirituality.
He commended the translators for producing what he referred to as a magnificent work; and their dedication, devotion and selflessness. He added that the translators have shown their love for other people by making sure that the spiritual verses are accessible to those who could not read them in English
He said translating scripture is a special challenge because it is written in an exalted, poetic style and the translator has the difficult task of conveying the beauty of the original without distorting its meaning.
"I must emphasise the fact that skill with which the translators incorporated Setswana idiom and rhythms while retaining the beauty and sense of the English idioms and figures of speech is admirable."
He said the two books are not only the prayers and the holy writings for Bahai faith but also a welcome contribution to the development of Setswana literature.
"It is encouraging to note that a number of young people have formed Setswana drama and theatre groups producing high quality performances and making innovative use of the language," he said. "We have a reason to be concerned, Setswana remains a living expression of our culture. I'm pleased that Bahai recognises this fact."
Gerald Warren, of the Bahai Faith, said on behalf of his religious organisation that the two books contain selected prayers and scriptures of the Bahai Faith.
Warren said, however, that the books were not promoted as religious context but as contributors to Setswana literature. He said the task was not easy as translators spend many years of work to ensure that Setswana of these translations sounds beautiful and fluent.
He explained that the books use Setswana idioms and figures of speech and they are written in a style that some readers might find old-fashioned but is appropriate for holy scripture. Each book contains a glossary of difficult Setswana words.
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