BTl Samburu Bible Translation
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.