The Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL) organization has launched the Duruma language bible in Kinango sub-county of Kwale.
The milestone achievement brings to an end close to 34 years of devotion to comprehensively translate a full Duruma language bible, with the New Testament done in the year 2000.
The tedious process involved the learning of the Duruma language and its differentiation from the Giriama language and the development of its orthography, a process that cost the organization close to Sh 120 million.
The colourful event that was attended by political leaders and clergy brought together the faithful and lay people from different parts of the country to witness the historical launching and dedication of the Duruma Bible.
Duruma language group is one of the nine Mijikenda language groups and its native speakers are found in Kinango and Lunga Lunga sub counties of Kwale County.
Mijikenda is a big Bantu ethnic group in Kenya that comprises nine sub-tribes whose culture revolves around clans and age-sets. Mijikenda includes Giriama, Digo, Chonyi, Duruma, Jibana, Kambe, Kauma, Rabai and Ribe sub-tribes.
Bible Translation and Literacy is a Christian-based organization established in 1981 to facilitate bible translation and sustainable literacy language development programs among small language groups in Kenya and beyond.
Speaking during the dedication of the bible in Kinango Primary School in Kinango Sub County, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya applauded the organization for the delightful work in empowering the community.
Mvurya added that the organization has been a strong pillar in spreading the gospel across the county.
‘This organization has transformed our society. The Digo’s are reading the scripture in their language and today the Duruma’s have their bible. Once the word reaches every person, then we can be assured of peace and unity and the economy of this county will balloon,’ Mvurya said.
The two-term governor noted that his administration will offer substantive support to the church to ensure that the society remains peaceful and united.
He said that already his administration has set aside money to pay fees for members of the church pursuing studies in theology.
“Last week, we gave out bursaries to pastors and evangelists who wanted our support to advance their studies and my administration will continue to render support,” he said.
The governor urged the residents to practice the biblical teaching and not to practice some outdated practices such as witchcraft which are not beneficial to society.
He applauded BTL for its substantive programs such as the Mother Tongue Education Program for Indigenous Languages (MEPIL) which has supported the education sector in the county.
The National Director for the Bible Translation and Literacy, Rev. Peter Munguti hailed the team in the county for their effort towards making the entire process successful.
Rev. Munguti added that the translation of the bible is important in the country since it safeguards native languages for generations.
“These translations will ensure that our grandsons and daughters will continue to use the original language of our community and it will maintain the culture and traditions of the communities,” he said.
The cleric noted that the organization is working on the Chonyi language bible and it will be completed soon.
He said BTL is currently in the process of translating bibles for over 25 indigenous languages across the country.
Rev. Munguti said that the translation of the bible will help the modern church, especially in the local communities develop programs that are confined in the scriptures.
“The songs we hear today in the church lack the basis of scriptures and through these language bibles, our artists will gain an in-depth understanding of the word and come up with songs that dignify the Holy Ghost,” he said.
He said BTL has been of great value to the communities within Kwale County, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Director said the organization played a decisive role in sensitizing the community on Covid-19 through posters and billboards.
Furthermore, the organization has aided the learning of indigenous language in primary schools through its Mother Tongue Education Program for Indigenous Languages.
The program has published and distributed indigenous learning materials for Grade One, Grade Two, and Grade 3 with plans underway to develop materials for pre-primary levels in Kwale County.
Rev. Munguti said translating the bible will not undermine the culture and customs of the community, but instead it will preserve them for posterity.
The national director said that translation of the Bible into indigenous languages will not propagate tribalism in the coastal county and the country at large.
He added tribalism is not a Christian value and once people read and understand the bible in their native languages, they will stop practicing the vice that has undermined the economy of the country over the years.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi