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Monday, Apr 28, 2014

World

A hotline to God: Nigerian creates vernacular Bible apps

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

Twenty five-year-old Computer Science undergraduate Kayode Sowole is the brains behind a series of new smartphone applications to make the word of God available in the country's four main languages at the touch of a button.

OBISESAN - On the streets of Lagos and across God-fearing southern Nigeria, it's not uncommon to see people with a leather-bound Bible in one hand and a mobile phone in the other.

But the Good Book's days could be numbered - in printed form at least - if 25-year-old Kayode Sowole's idea takes off.

The computer science student is the brains behind a series of new smartphone applications to make the word of God available in the country's four main languages at the touch of a button.

Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and even pidgin English downloads are available, catering to the masses of devout Christians in one of the world's fastest-growing mobile phone markets.

"With this innovation, you do not need the Internet to read the Bible," the University of Lagos student told AFP. "Neither do you need to bring a Bible to church.

"You have it in the local language of your choice on your phone." Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa versions of the Bible have long been in existence and date from the time of the first missionaries to Nigeria in the 19th century.

Pidgin - the widely spoken patois heard throughout the country - is only a more recent addition.

The pidgin version of the New Testament was formally launched last year by the Christian Association of Nigeria.

Facebook inspiration

Sowole cites Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as his guiding light.

"Zuckerberg is my hero and I get my inspiration from him. I am towing his line," he added.

He set about developing the apps in April last year and by October had finished his task.

Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa versions have both the Old and New Testament, while the pidgin app only has the latter for now.

One of the most famous Bible passages, John 3:16-17, reads in English: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." In pidgin, it translates as: "Bikos God luv di pipol wey dey dis wold wel-wel, E kon send di onli pikin wey E get to us, so dat enibodi wey biliv am, nor go die, bot e go get life wey nor dey end.

"God nor send en pikin kom kondem di pipol wey dey insaid di wold, bot mak e kom save dem."

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