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Kabras

New Testament

Country

Kenya

Language(s)

 

Kabarisi

Speakers

253,000

New life is in the wind for these rural farmers seeking freedom from spiritual fear and confusion—anticipation for the “JESUS” Film to reach all villages is high and the first books of the Bible in the mother tongue are eagerly being unpacked and read.

Thank you! This project has been fully funded for the year!



the Need
The Kabras people originally subsisted by hunting game on the western highlands of Kenya. Today, most raise livestock and farm the land, growing maize and sugarcane. But life is not easy. Young people in the community face high unemployment. Girls are married off young and often suffer abuse from their husbands. Ceremonies for circumcision and marriage highlight the way traditional beliefs dictate the rhythm of life in this community. Many Kabras people resist change, and fear instilled by traditional beliefs holds them captive. When Kabras children go to school, they have trouble understanding lessons which are only taught in the regional languages. Soon, the only place they will speak their mother tongue is with their parents and grandparents. Bible translation will not only preserve the language, mother-tongue Scripture will reach the hearts of Kabras people who have never fully understood the Bible read to them in the national language in church.
The Project

Kabras project team members, trained by staff from our national partner in Kenya, have made a commitment to:


  • Develop an alphabet.


  • Translate the New Testament and distribute it in print and digital formats.


  • Publish a literacy manual.


  • Hold literacy classes in the language community.


  • Provide mother-tongue Scripture-based materials like prayers, verse calendars, and children’s books. 


  • Facilitate listening groups that listen to available Scripture together.


  • Continue to promote the use of God’s Word in Kabarisi.

Translation Progress

Drafted

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100

Community-Checked

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100

Quality-Checked

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52

Eager for More
Pastor Aggrey belongs to the main church in the Kabras region, and often accompanies the bishop on visits to churches in remote areas. “I normally do interpretation work in church, and being familiar with Swahili and Kabarisi languages gives me an added advantage,” he explains. Before the project started producing Scripture in Kabarisi, it was a significant challenge for him to think on his feet and quickly translate what the bishop was reading and preaching. He admits that the meaning intended could sometimes be lost. “Since I have the book of Luke, I’m more effective. It feels so good, when making the Scripture reference by using the approved and tested books. . . . I know this will be of great benefit to us!” Aggrey cannot wait for the entire New Testament to be available in Kabarisi, and was excited to find out that, in the meantime, the project is sharing all books that are completed and ready for publishing on the Bible app.
An Answer to Prayer
Almost two decades ago, Simiyu asked BTL, OneBook’s partner in Kenya, to translate the Bible into Kabarisi, his mother tongue. He learned that others had made the same request, but that the process of translation was not a simple one. While Simiyu worked as a community development officer in the Kabras region, he began to pray that God would bring a team to translate the Bible into his language. In 2018, God answered Simiyu’s prayers and the Bible translation project began in his community. Simiyu believes that the translation project will save their language from extinction. Not only does he see the value of the project for the community, but he has also experienced the benefits himself as he studies translated Scripture with other believers at his church. “It has been so good going through some of the translated Scripture in my first language for the first time ever.” Simiyu has also volunteered to help teach mother-tongue literacy.

NEW

Reclaiming Names
The church among the Kabarisi people, like much of Kenya, is steeped in colonial history. In the past, adopting Christianity often equated to rejecting as much as possible about being Kabarisi. “In very rare occasions will you find people from this community embracing their African names,” explains Mildred, the project facilitator and lead translator. However, the work of translating the first chapter of Matthew recently gave project workers a new perspective on their ancestry. Mildred explains, “In most African communities we disassociate ourselves from our ancestors.” This may include taking an English name, or in the context of traditional religions where ancestors are worshipped, associating ancestors with witchcraft. However, seeing the importance of family relationships and genealogy in the Bible, Mildred and the team realized the impact family histories can have on identity. She gained a new appreciation for the young people who are now starting to choose to use their Kabarisi names once again. Mildred concludes, “This was an eye opener, and a great lesson from Matthew chapter one.”

“This work of Bible translation is helping us, as young people. For the last three years, coming together and meeting with the reviewers has really improved my knowledge and understanding of our language. Even now, I can fluently pray in Kabarisi without engaging in other languages—initially I could not.”

Declan, a young man from the Kabras community

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