“If not for this translation project, our language might be extinct.”
— Nakasongola, Uganda
Nafutali ‘Magala’ Walugendo is a retired primary school teacher, now a special adviser to the Ruuli king. He recently spoke of why he values the relationship between Scripture translation and mother tongue advocacy.
“When I was in secondary school,” he recalls, “you could never use any other languages but Ganda and English. And if you even had a name which seemed not to be a Ganda name, they would immediately change it.
“My real name is Walugendo. But when I arrived at school, the head teacher gave me a new name which I must use. He called me ‘Magala.’
“I spoke my mother tongue, Ruuli-Nyala, and a little English. But at school we were forbidden to use our mother tongue.”
Failure meant a particular form of punishment...
“Whenever I spoke Ruuli, the teacher hung a jawbone around my neck to embarrass me. I will never forget this as long as I live.
“Now it is different. Thanks be to God for such a time as this! Our children are learning to read their mother tongue through Scripture reading contests. We also thank God for the translation team's radio programme — every Wednesday, they teach us more how to read and write in Ruuli-Nyala.
“If not for this translation project, our language might be extinct. But today, we no longer fear to identify ourselves as Ruuli. Our people now openly love their language and culture.”