Profile of the Sango-speaking People
Central African Republic. Sango is the official language in the Central African Republic.
Also used in Chad and the Congo
Nearly seven-tenths of the population profess to follow Christianity.
More than one-tenth continue to practice traditional African religions.
There is a growing number of Sunnite Muslims.
The Sango Bible project is Bibles International’s oldest project.
When Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM) started in what is now the Central African Republic (CAR), there was no written language and no Bible other than those used by the French (primarily Catholic). William C. Haas, the founder of Baptist Mid-Missions, was an extremely gifted linguist with a great burden for seeing the Bible in the hands of all new converts. Even before BMM was organized, Haas began writing down languages and translating portions of Scripture.
The Sango (Sangho) language was spoken by a tribe of river people near where Haas first settled when he went inland. Haas decided that instead of translating the Bible in the numerous tribal languages, he would concentrate on the Sango language. He felt this would unify the church. It not only unified the church but also the country as it later became the national language of the Central African Republic. The first Sango New Testament was completed in 1932 by BMM. The Grace Brethren Mission joined with BMM on the translation of the Old Testament. Nearly fifty years after BMM entered Africa, the first complete Sango Bible arrived at Sibut, Central African Republic in November 1966. The Sango Bible became the fastest selling Bible on the continent of Africa.
The work of translating the Bible into Sango and financing the publication was almost entirely done by BMM, GBM (Grace Brethren Mission) and the Central African church, but the copyright belonged to the British and Foreign Bible Society. By the time the Bible was completed, the BFBS had become a part of the United Bible Societies, so the copyright came under their jurisdiction.
Because of changes in the language through use, the United Bible Societies undertook a new translation into Sango starting in 1992. However, the character and style of this newer translation was not readily accepted, and after lengthy negotiations with the United Bible Societies and the Bible Society of CAR, Bibles International began a revision of the original Sango Bible translation in 2006 with a new team of editors and revisers from the CAR churches. Their goal with this revision project is to preserve the original character of the translation with primarily revisions of vocabulary and grammar. The project has progressed steadily since then, and almost the entire text is through its first stages of revision.