Introduction / History
The Kamasau people number around 1,300 and were traditionally an animistic group of hunters and gatherers whose staple food is sago starch. Traditionally they survived by pounding the pulp of the sago palm tree, hunting small game and collecting greens and other foods. In recent years, gardening has become more important as a source of food. When they have money they supplement this diet with canned mackerel and rice.
A translation of the New Testament into the Segi dialect of the Kamasau Language was dedicated in 1999, with over 150 copies sold around that time. There are over 100 other titles of small books available in several dialects, some for children, and others for adults.
Government primary schools in English have been in the area since 1984. Most of the children over 8 are able to read the vernacular because for the past ten years preschools in the Kamasau Language have been operated by village men and women. Three men were trained as literacy supervisors to be able to maintain the two year prep schools, designed to teach the children to read and write in their own language before entering first grade in English. Teachers volunteer and tend to get discouraged when community support is low. Some of the adults are literate as well. As far as is known adult literacy classes for pre-literates have not yet been conducted on a wide scale, but it is hoped that the supervisors will soon begin classes. A Christian mission has worked in the area since the 1940's.
Almost all speakers of the language have accepted the Christian faith, through a significant number have done so only nominally. The people have the resources to hold adult literacy classes and Bible studies if they choose to do so. Prayer is needed for a work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
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