Chonyi Translation

This project is fairly new and it began in 2013. The Chonyi are one of the subtribes of the Mijikenda who are predominantly found in Kilifi County.
They number to approximately 148,806 people and this is in line with the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. Their main economic activity is agriculture and coconut palm is their most important cash crop.
Clans and age-sets are significant aspects in the Chonyi culture.When it comes to religion, the Chonyi are estimated to be about 80% Christian and the rest are animists. There is a good church presence in the community.

Chuka Translation

The Chuka people are found in the eastern side of Mt. Kenya in Nithi District in the Eastern Province of Kenya. They are found in the areas between the Thuci and Nithi Rivers. Socio-politically, the Chuka people are classified under the Meru people group.
The Chuka people were estimated to have a population of 70,000 (SIL, 1980), their current population is not well known because the 2009 Kenya National Population Census Report classified them under the Meru people who have a population of 1,658,108. Given their growth since 1980, their current population should be more than 70,000.
The Chuka people are predominantly Christian, with a small minority ascribing to Islam and traditional religion. The Presbyterian Church is the predominant Church denomination among them. Their main economic activity is farming. They grow potatoes, maize, beans, bananas, tea, coffee, horticultural products and keep dairy cows.
The Chuka people have a need for Bible translation and literacy because they cannot comfortably use the available Scriptures from their neighbouring languages.

Daasanach Translation

The Daasanach are found around the area north of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County. Sometimes they are referred to as Merille. They are Cushites and they number to about 12,530 people, according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. They are pastoralists, though a few grow millet along the banks of the Omo River.
Those who grow millet do not have metal implements, but rather use sticks to plant and weed the ground. The Daasanach often eat one meal a day, usually consisting of milk and sorghum, and sometimes meat. Most of the existing population can be found in Ileret Village, a remote outpost on the Eastern shore of Lake Turkana and north of Sibiloi National Park.
The Daasanach project began in 1983. The New Testament is in the final stages of translation before it is sent out for printing

Digo Translation

The Digo are mainly found in Kwale County in Kenya and Tanga in Tanzania. In Kenya, the Digo live mostly in dispersed family homesteads surrounded by cultivated fields, unlike in Tanzania where they live in close-knit villages. According to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census, the Digo number to approximately 313,288, making them the third largest of nine coastal tribes known as the Mijikenda.
This project was started in 1987 and on 12th August 2007 the New Testament was dedicated. Work on the Old Testament has been started and it is ongoing.

Duruma Translation

The Duruma predominantly live on the semi-arid plains, one mountain range inland from the seacoast of eastern Kenya in Kwale County. They are one of the communities that make up the Mijikenda. The nearest place of contact with other people is the large city of Mombasa.
The Duruma are mostly a self-sufficient farming group with certain members becoming active traders with the outside world. They number to 396, 667 according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. BTL started work in Duruma in 1987 and the New Testament was dedicated on 12th August 2000. Work on the Old Testament is continuing well.

Giryama Translation

The Giryama, also called Giriama or Agiryama, are one of the nine coastal tribes known as Mijikenda. The Giryama are the largest of the Mijikenda tribes and they number to 751,531 people according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census.
They inhabit a large portion of Kilifi County, which is to the north of the other Mijikenda peoples. The Giryama mostly practice agriculture and they also trade with other communities.
Work in Giryama began in 1989 and the Giryama New Testament was dedicated on 18th December 2004. The BTL staff in Giryama is in the process of translating the Old Testament.

Ilchamus Translation

Ilchamus inhabit the area south and east of Lake Baringo in Baringo County. They are also known as Njemps, Jemps and En- jemusi. They are in two clans: Lekepeo [inhabit northern part of the lake] and Melua [inhabit the southern part]. It is unclear whether they originated from Laikipia Masai or the Samburu. The neighbouring people groups are Kalenjin and Turkana.
The Ilchamus were primarily herders and hunters but because of repeated droughts, disease outbreaks and flooding, their herds have been reduced. The people therefore resorted to becoming sedentary agriculturalists who also practice fishing to supplement their diet. They are also successful traders in cattle, goats, milk and bead-work with outsiders but not among themselves. The Ilchamus number to about 32,516 people, (The 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census).
BTL started working with the Ilchamus in 2004 and the work is ongoing.The Ilchamus have one shell book on the Kande story. The Kande story is designed to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in schools, religious gatherings and social forums a particular community.

The Marakwet Translation

The Endo - Marakwet numbering 120,000 people are one of the many languages forming the Kalenjin group. Many of the Endo people live on the face of an escarpment above the valley floor. They practice subsistence farming in the area which is fed by three small rivers from the mountains. The water is distributed by an intricate series of irrigation furrows thought to be over 400 years old.

Farming includes a wide variety of crops such as millet, cow peas, corn and various tropical fruits. In addition, families keep sheep, goats and some cattle. Some members of the community also practice beekeeping. Theft and raiding by other tribes in the valley floor keep these herds of cattle small. There is little cash income. Trading, however, provides them with some staples such as tea, sugar, jerry cans, etc.

The Endo - Marakwet are isolated in several ways. There is only one poor dirt road into their area. They have no electricity. The government has provided some schools but attendance is low with very few Endo having completed 12 levels. The schools teach Swahili and English, but 100% of the population still speaks their mother tongue.

African Traditional Religion is practiced by about 85% of the Endo- Marawket population. There is a strong belief in curses and malevolent spirits among the Endo - Marakwet.

BTL began the Endo- Marakwet project in 1983, where the language was developed and translation and literacy work began. For many years in between, ethnic clashes with the neighboring community made it unsafe for the language project team to do translation and run literacy programs. Work was relocated to Eldoret. However calm returned in the mid 2000s and the translation team was able to complete the New Testament which was launched in February 2009. In 2012 BTL began working on the Marakwet Old Testament after an appeal from church leaders in the community who said, “now we have half a beehive (New Testament only), help us to get the entire beehive” (referring to the complete Bible.

Together we can support the Endo - Marakwet Translation

  • Ksh. 94,500 per year for two years will translate the Old Testament book of Obadiah
  • Ksh. 50,000 will sponsor a community translation review workshop for the Endo-Marakwet language (They need to do 2-3 reviews in a year)
  • Ksh. 50,000 per month will support the salary of a Marakwet speaking translator

Pokomo Translation

The Pokomo are an agricultural and fishing group who live in the flood plain of the Tana River from its mouth at Kipini to Mbalambala, north of Garissa, in Tana River County. Inhabiting the area since the 17th century, these people have learned to accommodate themselves to the flooding river, and benefit from the silt and water which these floods provide.
The Pokomo are divided into two distinct groups: Upper Pokomo and Lower Pokomo. BTL has been working in Lower Pokomo since 1985 and the New Testament was competed in 2005. Three years later, work on the Old Testament began and it is ongoing.
Recently, BTL began work among the Upper Pokomo due to the need for translation and literacy materials in a language they understand best. The Upper Pokomo people are not able to use materials from the Lower Pokomo as a result of the semantic shift of words. According to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census, the Pokomo number to 94, 965.

The Sabaot Translation

The Sabaot people live on or near the slopes of Mt. Elgon in Bungoma County. From an altitude of 5,000 feet the hills gradually rise to 14,000 feet, crisscrossed by numerous mountain streams and spectacular waterfalls. An extinct volcano, Mt. Elgon is about 50 miles in diameter. The border between Kenya and Uganda goes straight through the mountain top, cutting the Sabaot homeland into two halves.
According to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census, the Sabaot are about 240, 886. Drastic changes of lifestyle among the Sabaot has occurred in recent years. They used to herd cattle but are now forced to plant maize and vegetables due to scarcity of land. The Sabaot are proud of their cultural heritage but at the same time they are trying to adapt to the new ways of life such as taking their children to school.
The Sabaot project was started in 1981 and in 1997 the New Testament was completed. Fifteen years later, on 10th June 2012, the Sabaot complete Bible was dedicated at Kapsakwony, Mt. Elgon making it the first BTL project to have a complete Bible.

Samburu Translation

The Samburu people are located in Samburu County. The Samburu got separated from the other Maa speakers due to the migration of the Maasai and other ethnic groups farther south.
Samburu people were used by the colonial government in the military. They have traditionally herded cattle, goats and sheep in an arid region with sparse vegetation. A nomadic lifestyle is essential for their survival since attempts to settle down in permanent locations have reduced their self-sufficiency and ability to maintain their traditional values and practices.
They number to about 237,179 people according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. Work among the Samburu began in 2004 and it is ongoing. The Samburu and Ilchamus translation teams work together under the same technical staff but in the end, each community will have a separate New Testament.

Suba Translation

The Suba people live on the islands and shores of Lake Victoria in Homabay County. A large number of those who have held to Suba language and culture are found on Mfangano Island. To get there you have to use a ferry or a boat. They also spread to Suna and across the Kenya-Tanzania border.
The Suba mainly practice fishing which they consume locally and export the surplus. Further inland they are agriculturalists and are well known for their fruit production particularly oranges and bananas.
Work in Suba commenced in 1992 and the New Testament was dedicated on 15th April 2011.

Taveta Translation

The Suba people live on the islands and shores of Lake Victoria in Homabay County. A large number of those who have held to Suba language and culture are found on Mfangano Island. To get there you have to use a ferry or a boat. They also spread to Suna and across the Kenya-Tanzania border.
The Suba mainly practice fishing which they consume locally and export the surplus. Further inland they are agriculturalists and are well known for their fruit production particularly oranges and bananas. Work in Suba commenced in 1992 and the New Testament was dedicated on 15th April 2011.

Tharaka Translation

The Tharaka people are found in Tharaka Nithi County where they occupy the low plains between the slopes of Mount Kenya in the west and upper Tana River in the east. In accordance with the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing census, they are approximately 175,905 people.
They are farmers who grow cereal crops, cotton and sunflowers as well as keeping cows, goats and sheep. BTL began working with the Tharaka in 1988 and on 26th August 2001, the Tharaka New Testament was dedicated. Translation of the Old Testament was started in 2005 and it is continuing well.

Tugen Translation

This is a fairly new project which started in 2013.
The Tugen are part of the Kalenjin community and are found in Baringo County. In accordance to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census, the Tugen are about 140,489 people and are further subdivided into Arror, Samors, Lembus and Endorois. The Tugen are cattle keepers and the cow occupies a central part in their culture which is used as food (meat and milk), currency and dowry.
A BTL survey undertaken in 2010 revealed that although the Lembus dialect can comfortably use the Kalenjin Bible, the Samor and Arror dialects cannot use it.

Waata Translation

The Waata people are found in Tana River and Kilifi Counties. Due to their hunting and gathering lifestyle they prefer to live close to forested areas. However, their concentration area is Tana River County.
Their immediate neighbours are: The Giryama, Orma, Wardei, Somali, Pokomo, Munyoyaya, Taveta, Digo, Duruma and the Aweer people (their descendants). At times their neighbours refer to them as the Sanye but the Waata find this term to be derogatory.
Work began in 2012 and they are in the process of finalizing the orthography.

Samburu profile 2

The Samburu numbering 160,000 people are a nomadic pastoralist community located in Samburu County, Rift valley Province of Kenya. Their source of life and status is in their livestock. Milk, meat, blood and other traditional delicacies that come from these form their basic diet. Ethnic and traditional institutions of birth, youth, marriage, death and life in general, as well as language are practised and are a main sense of identity. The ratio of Christians to the population is about 10-12%. Adult literacy rate in Samburu is about 20%.

Why translate the Bible in Samburu?

  • The Indigenous Samburu Church is quite small with a few local “boma/manyatta” churches (household churches) springing up. Most of the main churches are concentrated in the urban centers in Maralal and they have more of immigrants than Samburu people themselves.
  • Though Samburu is widely spoken in the area, there is no Bible in their language. In the past the Samburu church leaders have attempted to use the Bible from the Maasai, a related language however, there are issues with comprehension and offensive or derogatory lexical terms.
  • There is little understanding of Christianity among the Samburu and a tendancy to mix this with traditional religion. In a recent survey, many community leaders and church pastors interviewed recorded their desire to see the Samburu language written and Scriptures translated. Most of them attributed the lack of growth in the Samburu Church and the low understanding of Christianity among the Samburu, to lack of Scriptures in the language.
  • The nomadic lifestyle of the community makes its members to keep moving to different places where they may not continue with fellowship for lack of a missionary or a local pastor who can move along with them. Audio Scriptures’ in the language are important for this kind of lifestyle.


The Samburu say that in the beginning God created a Samburu person, a cow and a book. While the Samburu person was grazing the cow, the cow ate the book and from that point on communication between the Samburu and their God was cut off. In 2008, the Samburu church leaders used this story as a basis for raising funds for the work of Bible translation. They felt that the book that was eaten by the cow was the Bible and that the only way to get back that book was through the cow. For this reason the leaders decided to each give a cow in order to raise funds to begin the work of translation.

The funds raised by the Samburu leaders and other partners saw the Samburu receive their New Testament on 14th December 2019. Translation of the Old Testament is ongoing and hopefully in a few years, the Samburu people will have a Complete Bible. If you desire to support the remaining work, click on the donate button on how to. God bless.




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