South Africa’s Roman Catholic Church has welcomed a donation of about $40,000 (£26,000) by President Jacob Zuma to translate the Bible directly from Hebrew and Greek into isiZulu.
Current translations lacked the “idiom and music” of isiZulu, Bishop Mlungisi Pius Dlungwane said.
Zuma’s mother tongue is isiZulu, the main language spoken in South Africa.
The Bible was translated into isiZulu during white minority rule, but from other languages.
Racial discrimination officially ended in South Africa in 1994 when the-then liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), swept to power.
Bishop Dlungwane told BBC Focus on Africa that the donation by the Jacob Zuma Foundation was a “start” in the effort to translate the Bible from the “biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek”.
It would take at least a decade to complete the translation, he said.
The South African Bible Society had translated the Bible from isiXhosa – the second most popular language in South Africa – to isiZulu in the 1950s, the cleric said.
“The language flow, the idiom and music is not there. It’s not the kind of language that we speak everyday,” he added.