Elephant-Tusk Music

By Rachel Greco

Playing the elephant-tusk instruments

Under the sun’s scorching heat, men sway in a circle playing fung anwan, elephant tusks, while women in vibrant skirts dance between them, singing amidst the rumbling tusks. These antique instruments announce important events, and the far-traveling sound lets neighbors know something important is happening.

These Yansi people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) indeed have something to celebrate: the first eight chapters of Luke had been translated and were ready for village testing. But the route the six Iyansi translators had to traverse to reach the Yansi could quell some of the strongest hearts.

The translation work occurs in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, because it has electricity, which the team needs for their computers. But the people who require Scripture don’t live in Kinshasa—they live in the outlying rural areas.

So, to test the book of Luke, the Iyansi translators drove about 500 miles from Kinshasa to the village of Miah, where the Yansi live. According to Kividi, one of the translators, “The roads are very sandy. During the rainy season they become slippery, so it’s scary when you’re driving in the rural areas because the roads aren’t maintained.”

Kividi and the others rented two 4WD vehicles to make the trip. On the second day of their journey, they reached a narrow road with a center too high for the 4WDs to pass safely. The men had to dig the top off so the grass and dirt wouldn’t impede their vehicles.

The road that had to be dug before proceeding to the Yansi village
Digging down the middle of the road so the team can proceed

As they continued their journey, something punctured one of their tires. They had to send the tire back by motorcycle—the only kind of vehicle that could easily pass through this narrow road and over the rough terrain—for repair to Bulungu, about 37 miles, or 60 kilometers away.

The team’s tire is punctured

The team walked the last 1.5 miles, or two kilometers, to Miah, where 1,200 Yansi people awaited the translation team under shade canopies, eager to hear God’s truth in their own language once more. They had heard and seen the JESUS film in Iyansi several years ago, which whetted the people’s appetite for more of God’s Word.

The people split into groups, each led by a translator in testing the first chapters of Luke for naturalness of speech.

To help these translators travel more safely and with fewer snares, JAARS has funded the purchase of two motorcycles and a 4WD vehicle. “The vehicles are so important, because they bring the translation to the people who need it,” Kividi says. “The vision of JAARS is that the people who are isolated and far away in remote areas like the rural areas of the DRC—where there are no [good] roads and no transportation—can experience God’s Word in their own language.”

The Yansi team has now completed the entire book of Luke, but still wait to learn how to drive and maintain these vehicles. Please pray that the doors open soon for this training so that more Yansi people can celebrate to the rumbling of elephant tusks with the entire Scriptures held in their hands.