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Nov 25, 2005

Gungu Language Project

Written by Administrator

Earnestly workingA dictionary workshop fosters lively discussion about
the language. (Gungu, Uganda)
The Need

Survey results indicate that many Gungu people cannot understand the languages around them that have a translation of the Bible. Consequently many people lack Biblical understanding. Christian leaders, including Catholic priests, agree that the Gungu people need the Scriptures if the church is to grow. They are committed to using the translation in the churches.

Because Gungu is the primary means of communication in the area, many people have expressed interest in learning to read the Gungu language and would like to have a Bible in their language.

Although precise education and literacy statistics are unavailable for the Gungu people, it is estimated that less than half have ever attended school. Few of these continue past elementary school. Many of those that learn to read do not read fluently, since there are few books available and they must read in a language they do not understand well.


After a survey of language use in the area from 1991 to 1993, the local Diocese of the Church of Uganda wrote to ask for help in translating the Bible into Lugungu. The church sent James M to Introductory Course in Translation Principles in 1993, and he did well. James was a secondary school teacher and a committed Christian who saw the need for the Bible in Lugungu. Following this course and with the recommendation of the church, James attended Pan African Christian College for four years of training in linguistics, translation principles and Biblical studies.

Four menThese Gungu Christian men are working together
to bring Scripture in their mother tongue. From left to right,
Pastor Wilson B., Pastor Fredrick M., Translator James M.,
and Robert K. (Gungu , Uganda)
The Translation Team

Language work began among the Gungu in 1996 with the formation of the Lugungu Language Committee. This committee (now renamed LUBITLA - The Lugungu Bible Translation and Literacy Association) caught the vision of Bible translation and consists of key political, religious and educational leaders who provide guidance and support for the project. Outside consultants contribute to the planning and consulting services required for the project as well as training the team members in translation principles.

The translators are:

James M - a secondary school teacher and a committed Christian. James attended Pan African Christian College for four years of training in linguistics, translation principles and biblical studies. He now serves as translation leader.

Rev. Moses B - an ordained minister serves as translator and project administrator.

What has been translated

The Lugungu team have produced a number of publications including the following:

  • Alphabet Chart
  • Orthography Guide
  • Spelling guide
  • The Book of Jonah
  • The Book of Luke
  • A book of proverbs and stories
  • The Jesus Film
  • 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and the Book of James

The Bagungu translation team has finished translating the entire New Testament. Publishing will follow pre-publication checks and reviews.

What is happening in Literacy?

Basic literacy and transition literacy primers have been published in Lugungu along with a number of easy reading books and some health and development booklets.The Lugungu literacy team is led by Thomas B. Together they promote the use of Lugungu in their community through teaching mother tongue literacy classes and Scripture engagement workshops.

The Church

The Anglican and Catholic churches have been present among the Gungu people for decades, but only a small percentage of the Bagungu attend church, and probably only a few of these churchgoers are active, practicing Christians. The rest of the population continues to practice traditional animistic religion, often mixing certain Christian beliefs with their animism. Some of the nearby people groups have large, thriving churches. Pastors note that the primary difference is that these languages have Bibles in their own languages, but the Gungu people do not.

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