The Mbugwe are historically related to the Rangi people, who live further south in Tanzania. They were historically hunters and cattle farmers, and the group was divided into 10 clans, each with its own chief. The traditional government no longer exists. In 1966 the Mbugwe were moved to the south and west of their original homeland, the salt plains directly south of Lake Manyara. Mainly because of the rice business in the south of the language area, a number of other people groups have begun to move into the area, meaning that most Mbugwe communities now have mixed populations. Christian missions have been present in the area since the early 1900s, beginning with the Roman Catholic church, followed by Lutherans and the Church of God, and more recently a number of other denominations. The majority of Mbugwe are nominal Christians, but most also continue with traditional practices and beliefs.
The Mbugwe translation project was started in the summer of 2008, and is still in the beginning stages. A tentative alphabet for Mbugwe has been established, and work continues on the writing system. The work on the alphabet was done together with a group of 13 Mbugwe Christians. Many Mbugwe are excited about the language work. They see it as a means to preserve their language and history, and many Christians are also excited about the prospect of an Mbugwe bible. There has been good support and involvement from the local community.
Mbugwe Team members: