Introduction / History
The Manta people can be roughly divided into two broad groups, a Northern constituency and Southern constituency. Northern Manta refer to themselves as Banta and their language as Kisam. The Southern Manta use the name Manta for themselves and Tinta for the language they speak. Culturally, historically, and linguistically they are essentially homogeneous. As a whole they are geographically isolated. The nearest road is at least a day's hike from the nearest Manta village.
Manta people live in approximately fifteen major villages stretching over a twenty-mile range. The terrain is mountainous and thickly forested for the most part. Some villages have no church, no clinic, and no school. Local traditional religion plays an active role in the live of most Manta people, even professing Christians. Syncretism is high, but church leaders have expressed a felt need for Scriptures in Manta. Church members themselves have indicated an interest in mother-tongue literature and literacy. Overall attitudes towards Bible translation and literacy are positive, though they believe English (and French for some) is more important than Manta.
One difficulty may be getting people from different denominations to work together. Teachers are somewhat favorable toward the introduction of Manta into the school curriculum. Despite their desire to learn English, comprehension of it remains low. Pidgin is much more widely understood and used, occasionally even in the classroom. Manta and Pidgin are used throughout church services. They would be better served by the Pidgin New Testament. But any spiritual depth in the faith and a grasp of many fundamental Christian truths can only be achieved by having the Word of God in translated into Manta.
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