The Dagaaba people reside in the Upper West Region, in an area covering about 4,000 square kilometers in Ghana and extending into Burkina Faso to the same extent. They number approximately 924,000 in the Ghana region and almost one million worldwide. The Dagaaba people speak the Dagaare language, but only 11% of them are literate. About 75% of the population profess Christianity, 22% of whom claim to be evangelical.
Roman Catholics entered the area in 1929, offering medical treatment for yaws and other prevalent diseases. Because of this, Catholicism quickly grew and left a significant impact on Dagaaba life. Other denominations entered the region in 1954 and embraced the challenge of literacy and Bible translation work.
Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries Roger and Norene Russ began translating the New Testament and providing literacy development for the Dagaaba people in 1976. Bibles International adopted the Dagaare New Testament translation in 1987, with several BI consultants assisting the translation and literacy team. In 1992, BI printed the first Dagaare literacy primer and a corresponding teacher's guide. Upon completion of the New Testament translation, BI printed 4,000 copies and conducted a dedication service in March 2016. The Russes successfully distributed these New Testaments and reported, "schools are wide open to us […] and the education office fully supportive […] in this endeavor to place Dagaare New Testaments into the hands of our students." The distribution of New Testaments and subsequent literacy efforts opened doors into Muslim schools as well. By 2019, fewer than 250 copies remained out of the 4,000 originally printed.
When the Dagaaba expressed their desire for a complete Bible in their language, Roger Russ began work on translating the Old Testament, and Bibles International adopted the Dagaare Old Testament project in September 2019.
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