The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview

100 YEARS OF THE LUGANDA BIBLE (1896–1996):
A GENERAL SURVEY
Aloo Osotsi Mojola

In 1996 the Bible Society of Uganda organised celebrations to commemorate one hundred years since the publication of the complete Bible in Luganda. Already in 1887 the first publication of Scripture in Luganda had appeared, the first in any Ugandan language, to be followed by other publications of individual books of the Bible in Luganda. 1896 was the culmination of this pioneer process, a precursor of Bible translation work in other Ugandan languages.

The Luganda Bible was destined to become a model to be followed by others. Indeed its powerful and widespread impact can hardly be overestimated. Luganda is a Bantu language spoken by the Baganda of the kingdom of Buganda. It is probably the most widely spoken or understood African language in Uganda. It is also spoken or understood in parts of north western Tanzania and the neighbouring parts of western Kenya. The naming of the country of Uganda after Buganda is due to the mistake of confusing a part for the whole. Buganda was at the time the dominant power of the region of the Great Lakes and outsiders and foreigners often committed this mistake. The great political power exercised by the kingdom of the Kabaka naturally gave the language of this kingdom an advantage as well as power over other neighbouring languages. It is therefore not surprising that the ground-breaking 1896 Luganda Bible was destined to exercise great influence and power not just in the kingdom of Buganda but in the whole of Uganda as well as in Buhaya in northwestern Tanzania and Buluyia in western Kenya.

The impact of the Luganda Bible can be gleaned from the following: the inscriptions on the foundation stone of the old Lutheran church on Kashura Hill, in the town of Bukoba, in Buhaya; the orthography of the first Ruhaya Bible, especially its proper names in Gandaized form; the religious terminology used in the Anglican translation of the New Testament in the Luhanga dialect of Buluyia in western Kenya. There is hardly a translation, during this early period of this region or even beyond, that evaded the influence of the Luganda Bible. It was ubiquitous. The widespread use of Luganda

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