Languages and the Matrix

Our team just watched, some of us for the first time, the Matrix. In the past, I’ve tried use the movie as a metaphor for life here,to think of Africa as real life, and America as the Matrix. Now I see how I was simply attempting to romanticize this place; the reality is that this place is poor and no metaphors will alleviate the guilt that comes with living, and leaving, here.

During a recent discussion with my teammates about the effects of Bible translation on indigenous languages, it occurred to me that a truer conception of the Matrix may be that of language. In languages that do not have native words for ‘to thank’, ‘please’, and where ‘love, like, want’ are all represented by one term, words frequently found in scripture such as righteousness, supplication, holiness, redemption, and dominion are not a part of the culture, mentality, and therefore not the language.

By no means do I mean to imply that the languages if Africa are anything less than [literally] nightmarishly complex. The complexity, however, is like that of entropy. There is order in the chaos, like all things African. The order which the sentinels seek to impose upon the children of Zion is the Matrix.

I’m also not suggesting the Bible and great literary works not be translated into African tongues. But, the way in which we currently impose rather than integrate perpetuates oppression.


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